How an Indigenous Program Influences a School’s Culture

Shona Goggin, Indigenous Program Coordinator, World Challenge Coordinator and Visual Arts Teacher

Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.

The theme for NAIDOC Week this year challenges all Australians to walk together for a better future. At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians. Developing a community to be one that values and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history is critical to building respectful relationships and achieving reconciliation in our country. Respect is just the entry point and schools are part of a broader movement to champion First Australians.

Kambala introduced it Indigenous Program in 2012 in partnership with Yalari. Through the program, the School hopes that young Indigenous women and future generations in their communities will have better opportunities than what is currently available to them. The program creates an environment where young woman have the opportunity to shine, to learn to lead as young women of purpose and integrity and to be an inspiration for other young Indigenous women. Ultimately, the School seeks to educate and empower Indigenous girls to make strong and positive contributions to their family, community and nation as citizens and leaders. Since the program’s introduction, Indigenous students have graduated from Kambala.

‘Respect’ is one of Kambala’s core values and the nurturing of its Indigenous students and community enriches the lives of all Kambala girls and the wider community – educationally and personally. The Yalari Program has significantly shaped and influenced the School’s culture.

Hayley Green and Kailani Bartlettare Year 7 students and recipients of a Yalari Scholaship to Kambala.

“I am a proud Anaiwan girl from northwest NSW. The Anaiwan are the traditional owners of the land surrounding Armidale and the New England tableland in NSW,” Hayley said.

“I’m a proud Gamilaroi girl from NSW. Gamilaroi country forms one of the four largest Indigenous nations in Australia,” Kailani said.

The influence of an Indigenous program results in a richer school culture and a commitment to reconciliation. The Indigenous girls at Kambala, both day and Boarding, influences not only the lives of other Kambala girls and teaching staff, but the broader Kambala community made up of current and future families, parents, grandparents and Old Girls. There is so much to learn from and celebrate about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. Building relationships and connecting with our girls and their families from all across the country is a great step towards helping build a better future, and to achieving reconciliation in our country.

The Indigenous Program creates a rich school culture, but it also delivers a positive impact for the students themselves.

“The main reason I really wanted to come to Kambala was because I knew I would have much better opportunities and education here. My cousin Shanelle Smith came to Kambala and she has been a huge inspiration for me and really inspired me to come here so I could reach my full potential and get a better education,” said Kailani.

“My family is proud of me and excited for all the opportunities that a Kambala education can provide. My family pinch themselves every day as they still can’t believe how lucky we all are for me to have been given this opportunity here,” said Hayley.

The history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were on show during NAIDOC Week at Kambala. This year, to celebrate NAIDOC Week, Kambala held a special assembly run by our Indigenous students. Our special guest speaker and Yalari Alumni Trey Petterson spoke about his background and experience being a Yalari scholar at Riverview. His speech was very moving and inspirational to all students and staff.

Learn more about the Kambala Indigenous Program.

About Shona Goggin

Shona is the Indigenous Program Coordinator, World Challenge Coordinator and a Visual Arts Teacher. In her various roles, she is responsible for supporting the pastoral needs of our Indigenous students, building relationships with the girls and their families and making them feel part of the Kambala community. She aims to improve cultural awareness and interactions amongst our non-Indigenous students, families and staff within the School through various initiatives and cultural immersion/awareness programs.