Students and staff at Busselton SHS have enjoyed an array of NAIDOC celebrations including in class curriculum activities, sports, entertainment, arts and food. In addition to this we got to learn so much about local Wardandi culture thanks to local custodians Zac, Wayne and Toni Webb who shared their culture and stories with the whole school at a series of compelling assemblies.

The week kicked off with a friendly game of footy between Busselton and Clontarf SW Academy with mixed teams; the rain held off and the boys all had a good run out, although Mr Gray’s pop up shelter was lifted up by high winds and came to earth with a thud! (Very sorry Mr Gray). Meanwhile the girls enjoyed a game of netball in the gym. The activities continued with a massive NAIDOC dodge ball game as well as two bouts of boomerang throwing.

Every day during form students were able to enjoy and learn form a multi-media presentation with a specific focus on Nyoongar language and culture, this culminated in a quiz on the last day of the week. Students were also able to participate in an art project decorating a sea of hands to be displayed on school grounds. The designs were as varied as they were impressive and are sure to brighten up the school landscape for the remainder of term.

Thursday was the big day for us as local elder and custodian Wayne Webb accompanied by Toni and Zac shared Wardandi history, identity and culture with each year group. The students were enthralled by Zac’s command of the Nyoongar language and his ability to relate everything to the land and the environment; places that we are familiar with such as Yallingup (place of caves) and Quindalup (place of the Quenda/bandicoot) were explained as was the need to respect the environment and not to remove things or cause damage. Places such as caves may well have been burial sites and Zac explained that items found in Devil’s lair have been carbon dated up to 67,000 years. This makes Aboriginal heritage and culture truly the oldest surviving civilisation in existence and one which we all ought to be able learn from. “I learned more today about Aboriginal culture than I have in the last twenty years.” commented one staff members after experiencing the Wardandi presentation.

Also on Thursday, Gwen had organised for crocodile, emu and kangaroo sausages to be cooked for everyone to try as well as making damper to go with it, this was served in the main quad as the Dudley Park Dancers entertained the audience with song and dance including an impressive rendition of We are Australian in Nyoongar language which was an apt way to finish a fantastic NAIDOC Week which was themed Our Language Matters.

We would like to thank Gwen Gray, our hard working AIEO, Mr Holt, Mr Ligtermoet and our great student support in particular Lakeeta Farrell, Dennis Colbung, Jaxon Barr, Jarrah Nannup, Peter Hermitage, Zen Sanderson and all of the staff who made this week possible. We would also like to thank Mr Couzic and the school admin for supporting this great NAIDOC event. This is the core business of education and we can be proud of marking NAIDOC week with such in-depth exploration of local Aboriginal identity, language and culture.

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