Education can take on many different forms, and we recently returned from a trip to Australia’s Northern Territory where we were so inspired by our project partner Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation’s “Learning on Country” program.

The program helps create positive connections to culture with traditional owners, and improve educational outcomes for Yolŋu youth. School students work with Dhimurru’s rangers, elders and teachers on a range of cultural and environmental topics, where they learn things like how to collect species data for maths assignments, cultural mapping, through to fire management practices.

Group listening to presenter

On this occasion, the workshop was based at Daliwuy Bay, a picturesque spot by the Gulf of Carpentaria, surrounded by pristine forest and waterways. With 24 secondary age students from Yirrkala School and the nearby Homeland School taking part, it was a really successful few days!

Although there are many layers to a ‘Learning on Country’ workshop, in a nutshell the students participate in two-way learning. It’s classroom learning and it’s also learning about culture, history and the environment on the country through a tradition of ceremonies, song, dance and story-telling.

“It’s talking about the past, the present and the future. We take the environment and put it in a curriculum,” comments Dhimurru Managing Director and Yolŋu Elder, Mandaka Marika.

On this particular workshop, the students learnt about the significance of Daliwuy Bay and surrounding landscape, as well how to explore their emotions and wellbeing.

One of the key benefits of the program is that it inspires and empowers Yolŋu youth, and helps them to achieve their dreams and goals within the classroom.

“We need these Galtha Rom workshops (Learning On Country workshops) to help keep our culture strong. I love learning with the elders, they look after us and teach us so much about the land and our history,” explains Year 10 student Gonybi.

Last month’s Learning on Country workshop was just the first of many more to come, and we can’t wait to see how more of this two-way learning helps empower Yolŋu youth in North-east Arnhem land.

About our projects in Australia’s northern territory

Yirrkala is a remote community in Northeast Arnehm Land in Australia’s Northern Territory and is home to the Yolŋu people, custodians of one of the oldest living cultures in Australia. Since 2013, we’ve been working in partnership with Yirrkala, delivering a number of development projects supporting indigenous youth, including the recent expansion of the ‘Buku Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre’.

Our latest partnership with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and their ‘Learning on Country’ program helps empower young people through cultural activities and education.

Working alongside community leaders, our aim is to support initiatives which help create a positive connection to culture and improve educational outcomes for young people.


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