Cultural awareness training led by Yalu
Yalu Marngithinyaraw is working in collaboration with Shepherdson College on a cultural awareness program delivered by local cultural advisers with the participation of all teaching staff. The program provides in-depth information on Yolngu culture through workshop discussions that create opportunities for team teachers to negotiate the intercultural classroom dynamics.
The first few workshops presented an introduction to gurrutu, Aboriginal kinship system, discussing its complexity in identifying differing levels of relationship and understanding how reciprocal bonds of relationship work. Non-Indigenous participants were able to develop a basic understanding of what gurrutu is and how it works. This allowed them to become more familiar with the names used to describe the different family relationships. As most people working in Galiwin’ku have been ‘adopted’ into Yolngu families, it has been an opportunity for everyone to understand the kinship structure better.
The facilitators gave the participants some fun activities so people could understand how connected they are with others around them without realising it (for not fully understanding gurrutu). Adopting non-Yolngu people into their families is a way for Yolngu people to demonstrate how much they want to support everyone who lives or frequently visits their community, as explained by Evonne Mitjarrandi:
Now you know how connected you are with all the other people in this room and in this community. We are here to support you, that’s why you have been adopted into our families. You are never alone.
The facilitators explained the importance for all teachers to perform a similar gurrutu activity in class on the first day to allow students to get to know one another. The cultural advisors explained that this supports student engagement and also has a role in minimising bullying, as children become aware of their family connections with one another.
Due to the success of these workshops and for being very well received by all teaching staff, it has been requested that they continue to be delivered throughout Term 3.
Yalu’ has organised and delivered a ten week Cultural Awareness Training (CAT) program delivered by Margaret Miller and Evonne Mitjarrandi. This was supported by two local cultural advisors (Elders – Dorothy Gapany and Daisy Gondarra) with participation of all teaching staff. The program developed to provide non-Indigenous teachers with increased knowledge about local Aboriginal culture and more in-depth information on cultural identity. The workshop discussions created better opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers/educators to learn how to work together respectfully and productively to embed Indigenous knowledge and cultural practices into classroom activities. Total sessions and attendance are listed below:
• Week 1: 31 (12 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 2: 22 (10 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 3: 29 (15 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 4: 26 (10 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 5: 18 (6 Yolŋu teachers*)
• Week 6: 15 (5 Yolŋu teachers*)
• Week 7: 28 (14 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 8: 38 (11 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 9: 30 (10 Yolŋu teachers)
• Week 10: 32 (14 Yolŋu teachers)
*funeral and ceremonies