Bridging the gap with understanding
A NORTHERN suburbs school is helping to bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.
St Stephen’s School Duncraig and Carramar signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015 with Purnululu and Yiyili Aboriginal Community schools in the Kimberley.
This has resulted in reciprocal learning opportunities for staff, digital learning support from the Perth school and student service tours, where St Stephen’s students spend time at the schools doing everything from maintenance jobs to helping in the classroom.
Global programs director Mark Fielding said the school was “committed to reconciliation in a meaningful and engaging way, not tokenistic”.
“We want to build a longterm relationship and getting kids together in a meaningful way is the best way to build empathy and understanding,” he said.
“It gives them a different view of the world that I believe is far more mature and more centred.
“It’s just a privilege seeing Aboriginal people living on their land and doing it well.
“We can’t reproduce this inside our schools.”
Yiyili principal Alex Mountford said the partnership was extremely beneficial for her students and teachers.
“Working in a remote location can become a bit insular, so I think making networks outside Yiyili is really beneficial,” she said.
“Our kids really enjoy showing kids from the outside their country and they feel a lot of pride in being able to share that knowledge with them.”
Ms Mountford said the longer she spent at the school, the more similarities she saw between both communities.
“Everyone wants their child to be healthy and strong,” she said.
“Sometimes cultural background means you go about that in different ways, but there’s a lot we have in common, so perhaps when there’s no opportunities to interact those barriers seem bigger than they really are.”
Yiyili principal Alex Mountford with St Stephen’s global programs director Mark Fielding. d471685
Below: Yiyili and St Stephen’s students play together.