Indigenous culture focus

By Liz Mellino

Guthrie St Primary School students learned the basics of south-east Australian Aboriginal arts, language and history on Wednesday through a program Kaiela Arts delivered.

With support from the Victorian Government’s Strategic Partnerships Program, Kaiela Arts in Shepparton has developed three curriculum-based learning activities drawing on traditional Aboriginal themes and languages.

The newly-funded Galnyatj! Inspire, Learn, Create Art program comprises sessions which can be delivered alone or as a complete cultural series for students in the classroom.

Year 3 students listened to stories told by Kaiela Arts visual arts educator Rhonda Chrisanthou and Aboriginal artist and educator Troy Firebrace and worked alongside them to create their own visual art pieces.

Ms Chrisanthou said the program had been in the woks for many years and she was pleased to see it up and running.

‘‘People at Kaiela Arts have been well aware that there has been strong support for indigenous arts and culture in the curriculum,’’ Ms Chrisanthou said.

‘‘There has been a considerable development in the knowledge base of traditional language which is being developed by the gallery in picture and alphabet books, so there is a lot more resources available now that we are taking directly into schools.’’

The three different curriculums — Living Stories, Kinship, and Self — focus on individual areas of the Aboriginal language, animals, landscape and symbology.

The programs can be tailored to students from Years 1 to 6 and are available to all primary schools in northern Victoria.

Mr Firebrace said he hoped the sessions gave students a broader understanding of the culture to accompany their language studies.

‘‘Hopefully they develop respect for the indigenous culture and carry that on throughout their studies as well,’’ he said.

‘‘They can utilise the words that we teach and utilise the signs and symbols so they know where it has come from and what it is all about.’’

For more information about the program or to book a session for term 4, email education@