St Joseph’s pre-prep students Sophie and Owen with Aunty Bindy Brown … the school’s pre-prep program aims to foster cultural awareness (Photo: BCE)

May 24, 2024

St Joseph’s School at Murgon has introduced a First Nations Language curriculum into classes this year, after consultations with local Elders.

It has also introduced “cultural play” into the school’s Term 4 Pre-Prep program to help shape children’s learning, growth and “connectivity”.

Principal Justin McCarthy said 70 per cent of students at St Joseph’s were First Nations and cultural play was transformative.

“Through engaging First Nations storytelling and art, our Pre-Prep program fosters cultural awareness and creates an environment where children can freely explore and embrace diverse play experiences,” he said.

“This year, the school has also embraced Brisbane Catholic Education’s First Nations Language Curriculum.

“For some of our students, integrating Wakka Wakka language in our school reinforces what they know and understand about their cultures and identities.

“This presents an invaluable opportunity to foster a sense of connection and familiarity for our future students.

“Our school’s Indigenous Liaison Officers also enrich our future students’ educational journeys by promoting every child’s fundamental right to participate in and celebrate diverse play traditions.

“Together our Indigenous Liaison Officers reinforce a sense of belonging and pride in culture at school, strengthening connections to culture.

“We recognise that our duty is not to teach culture but to establish a seamless connection to culture at school.”

Honouring each student’s cultural identity aligned with the theme for this year’s Under 8s Week (May 15-21) which was “Connecting to Culture Through Play”.

BCE spokesperson Dr Honor Mackley said this theme was special because it highlighted how children learn through play.

“This year’s theme celebrates different cultures and traditions, providing children with the opportunity to explore themselves and others,” Dr Mackley said.

“It offers a context for play that fosters a deeper understanding of the world around them.”

* * *

There has been a focus on Wakka Wakka language recently in other South Burnett schools,  too.

A project begun in 2020 by researchers from the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Central Queensland University – working in conjunction with local Elders, Cherbourg residents, Cherbourg State School, Murgon State High School and Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council (CASC) – culminated in the publishing of various resources earlier this year which could be used, with permission, by local childcare services, other schools and the broader community.

The “Binung Ma Na Du Cultural Stories and Living Histories on Wakka Wakka Country” project aimed to create resources to support language revitalisation.

Workshops were held with school students, Elders and community members to share their experiences.

The project created a series of videos and podcasts which have been published on the CASC website


One Response to "Language ‘Fosters Connection’"

  1. What a joy to see St Joseph’s School in Murgon is teaching the local Aboriginal language and culture before it is lost forever.

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