A Word from the RALF (August 2023)
On the bright and sunny morning of Thursday 27th July, Hay Public School came alive with vibrant colours, laughter, and an air of excitement as students gathered to celebrate NAIDOC Day. NAIDOC, which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, is a significant celebration in Australia that honours the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s NAIDOC theme, “For Our Elders,” highlights the importance of acknowledging and respecting the wisdom, knowledge, and contributions of Aboriginal elders.
The school was fortunate to have the presence of four Wiradjuri Elders from Narrandera Sandhill’s artefacts, including Uncle Michael, Uncle Phillip, Uncle Graham and Aunty Nita. The day’s events were further enriched with the participation of Wiradjuri artist and former Hay Public School student, Emma Johnston, who joined in the festivities.
The NAIDOC celebrations at Hay Public School featured a series of five engaging rotations, each offering a unique opportunity for students to learn and immerse themselves in traditional Aboriginal culture.
In the first session, students learnt the art of cooking damper, a traditional bread. This was followed by exploring the school’s bush tucker garden, where children were introduced to various plants used in Aboriginal cuisine.
The second session proved to be a delightful culinary adventure as Uncle Phillip shared his wisdom about traditional foods. Students eagerly tasted his Johnnie cakes, succulent barbecued kangaroo, and wattle seed ice cream, experiencing flavours that have been enjoyed by Aboriginal communities for generations.
The highlight of the day came during the third session when students collaborated
with Emma Johnston to create a stunning mural on the school’s water tank. Armed with paintbrushes and their creativity, students eagerly placed handprints and decorated the surface with intricate dot paintings and meaningful Aboriginal symbols.
In the fourth session, the atmosphere grew serene as Uncle Michael mesmerised the students with Dreaming stories, accompanied by the moving melodies of his didgeridoo. The students were captivated by the tales that have been passed down through generations, connecting them to the rich cultural heritage of the Wiradjuri people.
The fifth and final session brought the day’s learning full circle as students delved into the Wiradjuri language through songs, and explored authentic Aboriginal artefacts with Uncle Graham and Aunty Nita. This interactive session allowed them to deepen their understanding
of Aboriginal traditions and the value of preserving these practices.
The NAIDOC Day celebration at Hay Public School was a resounding success, thanks to the passionate involvement of the Wiradjuri Elders, Emma Johnston, and the enthusiastic
participation of the students. It was a wonderful event that not only educated the children but also fostered a sense of unity, respect, and appreciation for Aboriginal culture among the school community.
Participating in NAIDOC Day celebrations is important for schools as it provides an avenue to promote cultural understanding, diversity, and inclusivity. By involving students in such events, schools play a pivotal role in shaping future generations to be culturally aware, empathetic, and socially responsible individuals.
As the students bid farewell to the day’s festivities, they carried with them memories of a transformative experience that instilled in them a deeper appreciation for the wisdom of their elders, the beauty of Aboriginal art, and the significance of preserving Aboriginal traditions. Hay Public School’s NAIDOC Day celebration truly set a remarkable example of how schools can come together to celebrate diversity and honour the First Nations people of Australia.
This article was written by Jade Auldist. Jade is the Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) for the Riverina region. Her role supports farmers, industry and community groups (including Landcare Groups) to adopt new and innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
For further information on this article, please contact Jade at email@example.com.