NAIDOC Week under way

St Joseph’s School Narrandera students showing off their ‘tattoos’. Painted by local artist Stuart James, the designs include kangaroos, snakes, lizards and sea turtles.

NAIDOC Week officially began yesterday, but the children at St Joseph’s School Narrandera got to celebrate it a little sooner. Given that it was their last day of term on Friday, the children spent the middle of the day devoted to activities for NAIDOC week.

“We’ve got ten activities, ten rotations, based on traditional Aboriginal games,” said teacher Paige Fraser, who organised the NAIDOC Week activities.

“Two are craft activities, and Stuart James is tattooing the children. He was going to do a large artwork on the ground with chalk, but they just thought that tattooing the animals would be better, and he’s an artist.”

The ‘tattooing’ was actually Mr James painting the children’s arms with kangaroos, sea turtles, snakes and goannas. The goanna is the totem of the Wiradjuri.

“We’ve got four games that are based on running, physical activity, a couple that are based on other physical activities, catching and throwing, which is based on Aboriginal culture.”

The craft activities involved colouring in the Aboriginal flag, as well as colouring in different native Australian animals. As the children had a lot to get through in a small space of time, activities had to be limited to 12 minute slots. “Nice and quick and simple,” Ms Fraser said.

“Then we’re having an assembly this afternoon where we’re going to sing the national anthem in Wiradjuri language. Stuart’s doing an acknowledgement to country.”

Given that Narrandera has a much higher Indigenous population than the country’s average, it is vital for the students to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous community.

“I’m glad to be doing it for the kids, and it’s good for them. And we had a chat at the start about why we’re doing it and why it’s significant. I know it’s not until the holidays (NAIDOC Week) and I spoke to them about it – being NAIDOC Week in a day and all that sort of thing. Most of them knew about it,” Ms Fraser said.

“It’s mainly a bit of fun for the kids on their last day and that’s why we chose to do it now and not when we come back for the start of term three. It’s a fun way to end the term together. The students are doing the groups in kindergarten to six so they can all help each other, which they’re really good at.

“I’ve done that deliberately because the older kids are really good at helping the little kids and there are some really tricky activities that they need to get their heads around. Hopefully it’s a success.”

Ms Fraser is new to the school – she only started teaching at St Joseph’s in January – but she volunteered to organise NAIDOC Week.

“I offered to do it because I’d done it at my last school and it was very important. My partner’s Aboriginal, but I think it’s important for the kids to know about the culture. Even if it is a modified way of teaching the culture,” she said.

“I’ve asked the teachers to use the language that’s in the activities, and talk about the tradition, and where it came from. I spoke to these kids about how this [a throwing game] is from the Torres Strait Islands.”

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