Northern Bay respond to student voice by creating new Cultural Activity Program

The initiative came about through the Koori Education Workforce – Continuity of Learning Working Group, which is a partnership between Our Place, Northern Bay College, Wexford Campus, Department of Education, KESOS, Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative and Meli.

A First Nations Support Worker from Northern Bay College Wexford Campus heard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, particularly girls, expressing an interest to learn cultural dances, which had led to successful cultural days at the school.

The trial followed a desire to expand the reach of cultural days, ensuring that First Nations children and families were acknowledged and supported, with emerging needs explored, according to Our Place Community Facilitator Karen Butterworth.

“Discussions were focused around opportunities to support students connecting with culture, engagement and attendance at school, and in turn, supporting wellbeing and a sense of self and identity, and supporting parent and carer engagement and what might this look like,” Karen said.

With funding through DFFH Family Services Initiative, the pilot project’s cultural activities were facilitated by Wathaurong and Wurri-Ki Culture, and supported by NBC Wexford Education Support, First Nations Program and Our Place.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in grades three and four attending Northern Bay College Wexford Campus took part across six sessions in terms three and four, culminating in an end-of-year exhibition, where children shared what they had learnt with parents and carers.

Program evaluation took place with attending children, who were asked to share their feelings about the project using dot stickers on faces as they arrived and departed each session. A short video captured the experiences of student and staff involved as another form of evaluation.

As a result, investment to support another Cultural Activity Program in 2024 has been achieved.

Our Place played a key role throughout the program, supporting the connection of relevant services, being a presence at the sessions and ensuring relevant data was captured, Karen said.

“The project was important as it was developed in response to observations of children’s voice and needs, as well as seeking to explore ways to support some of the ideas and discussions that the KEW COL working group had identified. Through capturing feedback from the children, there was a clear enjoyment of participating in the program. Engagement was high and consistent. Connecting to the local Aboriginal Cooperative, leading to further opportunities to connect.”

Karen Butterworth, Our Place Community Facilitator