In 2017 five of our ITE students undertook placement in the NT on Yolŋu country. Jayden Stapleton and Ashleigh Collins provided the following reflections.
We had an incredible time working at the Yirrkala Homelands Schools. We brought back some great stories of our time in the homelands, and our run-ins with weird and wonderful NT characters. But what else did we return with to share back in the Melbourne metropolis, where a lot of people couldn’t point this place out on a map, let alone identify the histories, cultures and systemic issues at play in this oft-forgotten Territory?
- A bank of authentic interactions/relationships/experiences with Yolŋu people to share with those down south who may have a deficit in that area.
- How the uniqueness of this context, a hub school and the community schools, empowers the members of these communities to have an education system that is relevant to their lives.
- The importance of building positive, ongoing relationships between Yolŋu and Balanda (white people), and more broadly, between First Australians and New Australians, as it is the only way to move forward that benefits all of us.
It’s experiences such as these which change the course of our journeys as teachers. Knowing what we now know, we cannot look away from the bigger picture, even from the comfort of an everyday Melbourne classroom. We must use our platform to continue the discussion, to amplify the voices which are seldom heard from so far away. We hope that every pre-service teacher has the opportunity to learn about this unique, resilient culture direct from the experts – the Yolŋu people!