Aboriginal Cultural Immersion Program

During Semester one Mater Dei College students embarked upon a new and exciting venture. Students from Years 8-12 took part in an Aboriginal Cultural Immersion Program that is run over Terms 1-3. The program immerses students in and around Aboriginal culture throughout the Perth metropolitan area. 

The project began as a PALS initiative (Partnership Acceptance Learning Sharing) through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Because of its growth, the program this year included two groups from Mater Dei College.

The immersion commenced in week 4 and began with a two-day camp, which included an overnight stay at Clontarf Aboriginal College. This was a wonderful opportunity for both groups of students, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to learn from each other. The evening included activities that broke down cultural barriers on both sides and provided an opportunity for dialogue and relationships to develop between the two groups. 

The remainder of the camp included a visit to Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre where the two groups split and participated in separate activities. The lower school students participated in the Ancient Science Program where they made Mia Mias, ate Kangaroo pies, stew and damper. They also learnt about the medicinal and nutritional benefits of certain plants and the important eco systems of the lake. 

The Stage 3 Visual Art students learnt about the Stolen Generation and the effect of European settlement on Aboriginal peoples. It proved an excellent starting point for their commentaries unit of study. The students were looked after by Nyoogar elders Robyn Collard and Marie Taylor who were instrumental in the whole process.

The second part of the cultural immersion program will hopefully bring both school communities together again towards the end of term two to work on a large-scale permanent mural. The mural will build and expand upon the achievements of the immersion and allow students another opportunity to consolidate their friendships and strengthen the bond between the two schools and the wider Aboriginal community.