How CEDoW schools across our Diocese celebrated NAIDOC Week

Yarning Circle – News From Around The Diocese | How CEDoW schools across our Diocese celebrated NAIDOC Week

Posted 10 August 2018 by Catholic Education in Yarning Circle – News From Around The Diocese

NAIDOC Week is an important time in our Catholic schools, where we celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Through liturgies, assemblies, presentations and learning activities, our schools have learned about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and acknowledged the significant history and presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the many regions of our Diocese.

In particular, with this year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘Because of Her, We Can!’, our schools have paid tribute to the incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our school communities.

WATCH students from across our Diocese acknowledge the significant contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in our CEDoW community:

NAIDOC Week 2018 was held nationally from Sunday 8 July through to Sunday 15 July. This meant the week fell in the school holiday period, but it didn’t at all deter our schools from observing the occasion in many special ways. Students and staff attended both local community NAIDOC gatherings during the Sunday-to-Sunday period and special school events throughout the month of July, both before and after the holidays.

Here is a photo gallery and snapshot of how schools across the Diocese of Wollongong - on the lands of the Dharawal, Tharawal, Yuin and Gundungurra nations - celebrated NAIDOC Week 2018...

Click on the school name to go directly to their section:

St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra

St John’s, Nowra held a memorable assembly for NAIDOC Week - a stand-alone celebration of Aboriginal culture that firmly features in the school's annual calendar. The students beautifully prepared and decorated the stage area with significance directed to this year's theme, featuring a display of major works from the school’s Aboriginal Studies students - including that of Katelyn O'Mullane, who starred in the recent CEDoW Director’s Art Gallery.

180810 NAIDOC SMN 1The assembly included a prayer led by Father Michael Dyer; performances from both the girls and boys dance groups; and a presentation from the Aboriginal Studies students - this year on local Aboriginal women who have been instrumental in improving the lives of Aboriginal people in the Shoalhaven area.

The event invited community to the school - local Elders and family members attended and enjoyed a gathering together following the assembly, where they shared food and yarns with the students and staff. The Aboriginal students took pride in the celebration and showed great respect for their culture. They went out of their way to prepare special gifts for the invited guests, with one of the students, Kyara Simms, even creating woven baskets to present to the Elders. Local Elder, Sonny Simms, gave a short speech at the event and declared the celebration ‘the best he'd seen!’ 

Each day throughout the week, the school’s morning prayer includes a reference to NAIDOC, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander flags fly proudly next to the Australian flag. The week also saw the official naming of the St John’s Aboriginal Education Unit by principal Sandra Hogan: ‘Gooroon’ (meaning ‘teaching and learning’ in Dharawal language).

180810 NAIDOC SJEN Collage

St Mary Star of the Sea, Milton

St Mary Star of the Sea, Milton started its NAIDOC Week with local Elder, Uncle Noel, leading an outdoor smoking ceremony, which all the staff, children and guests participated in. After prayer and other observances, students from Year 3-6 performed the dances that Uncle Noel had been teaching them last term.

180810 NAIDOC SMSOS Collage

A special whole-school activity to mark NAIDOC Week at St Mary’s - led by Aboriginal Education Assistant, Melissa Henry - was a weaving artwork contributed to by every student at the school. Started during Term 2, all the children and staff completed an individual weaving disk each. On the day of the school’s celebration, the disks were assembled and weaved together in a giant hanging artwork before the children’s eyes.

The artwork was a beautiful symbol of the school community coming together to celebrate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture that contributed to their school. It was also particularly relevant to this year’s NAIDOC theme, 'Because of Her, We Can!', as it was designed to remind everyone who sees it of the many ways that local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women cared for their families - and that ‘from little things, big things come’.

Year 2 student, Abby was a big fan of the artwork: “I enjoyed the weaving because it was fun and I learned a new experience about what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women do when they make baskets and mats,” she said.

“I think it is important to celebrate NAIDOC because of all the great things Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can teach us. It is good to learn about the land and how we should look after it.”

180810 NAIDOC SMSOS Collage 2 

St Michael’s, Nowra

Many of the St Michael’s, Nowra students, families and staff - including Aboriginal Education Assistants, Vanessa Longbottom, Jody Manners and Mark Mongta - worked very hard to prepare for the school’s important NAIDOC Week celebration. Special guests, parents and Elders joined the day, including an assembly where students led those gathered in prayer, dance, song and remembrance. This was followed by a special acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and all women in our society.

The school also held a mufti-day fundraiser for The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, allowing the students to wear red, black and yellow in exchange for a gold coin donation.

St Michael’s made the news for their NAIDOC Week celebration, including the students’ participation in CEDoW’s video acknowledging all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who work in our Catholic schools as Aboriginal education assistants, community engagement officers, teachers, education officers and other support staff.

180810 NAIDOC SMN Collage 

St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral

St Thomas Aquinas, Bowral finished their Term 2 with a NAIDOC Week assembly. Year 1 led the school in an indigenous prayer.

“I liked playing the clap sticks when we sang the Aboriginal ‘​Our Father’​ at our NAIDOC Week assembly,”  St Thomas Aquinas student, Morgan said.

Inspired by the recent Reconciliation Week theme 'Don’t keep history a mystery: Learn. Share. Grow', the school’s NAIDOC Week activities focused on learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.

“It's important we celebrate NAIDOC Week because the Aboriginal people are ancient people who have carved their stories on rocks for us to learn about their culture and people who have died,” Max said.

“NAIDOC Week is important because people think the Prime Minister is the owner of the country, but really the Aboriginal people are the owners because they were here first,” Flynn added.

180810 NAIDOC STAB Collage 1

Each grade also incorporated aspects of the key NAIDOC themes into class activities. Kindergarten, for example, listened to Dreamtime stories and doing some traditional dot paintings.

“We painted patterns around our hands to celebrate NAIDOC Week,” Kinder Gold student, Maya said. “We did dot paintings using special sticks and colours from the earth,” Alice said.

180810 NAIDOC STAB Collage 2 

St Patrick’s, Port Kembla

St Patrick’s, Port Kembla began their NAIDOC commemorations with a moving liturgy. It was a whole school effort, with Year 6 leading the school in prayer and responding to the Word with speeches about inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This was followed by a presentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks by Year 3 and Year 4; and the Year 1 students, who sang the beautiful Aboriginal song, ‘Inanay Capuana’.  

180810 NAIDOC St Patricks 3The afternoon saw the students take part in a cultural immersion session, featuring an interactive performance by a local Aboriginal elder, Larry Brandy. He shared his culture with the children and they learned about traditional Aboriginal tools and weapons, and a mix of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, song, music and dance. They also participated in a role play corroboree. The students enjoyed the wonderful cultural experience and opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Year 5 student, Christian, said the NAIDOC Week celebrations taught him about what Australia was like before European settlement: “We learned from Aboriginal elders how they used the land for their many purposes. It reminds us to be respectful of Indigenous people and their culture,” he said. 

“The presenter, Larry Brandy, was very engaging - he made the younger students laugh and he taught about how Aboriginal people lived hundreds of years ago. I learned a lot from him.” 

Michael from Year 6 said he enjoyed learning about strong Aboriginal women such as Evonne Goolagong and their contribution to our nation: “We can all learn something from Evonne Goolagong’s life. She never gives up and always followed her dreams. We at St. Patrick’s need to do the same as Evonne Goolagong. If we work hard and do our best, we can accomplish anything!” he said.

180810 NAIDOC SPPK Collage 

St Anthony’s, Picton

St Anthony’s, Picton marked NAIDOC Week with several activities. They were privileged to have local Elder, Aunty Sharynne, visit classrooms to read Dreaming stories to the children and chat about the traditional role of women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The school also held a NAIDOC liturgy, followed by a morning tea for parents and families. These visitors were then invited to stay and enjoy the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander games, art and craft activities happening in all the classrooms.

Year 6 student, Danijela, said she gained a lot from being at St Anthony’s during this special occasion: “I think the NAIDOC celebrations we had were quite informative, like about what activities the Aboriginal people used to do. I also think that it is important to celebrate NAIDOC Week so we can keep Aboriginal traditions and cultures alive,” she said.

“I liked that we started the day with a reverent liturgy, followed by some traditional games and sports that Aboriginal people played in the past. We had arts and crafts activities that reflected this year’s theme of ‘Because of Her, We Can!’,” classmate, Arielle said.

180810 NAIDOC SAP Collage 

St Columbkille’s, Corrimal

Parents, family and friends were warmly invited to join St Columbkille’s, Corrimal's acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week when Term 3 resumed. A liturgy was held for the whole school community, where the school choir prepared special songs to support the celebration.

Following the liturgy, the school held a display of artefacts in the library to reflect on the NAIDOC theme. The CEDoW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education team brought in items such as coolamons, woven baskets, digging sticks and images to showcase life from an Aboriginal woman's perspective. This and other themed classroom activities were spread throughout the week to engage students in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history.

180810 NAIDOC SCC Collage 1

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the school also helped Mrs Orphin give the newly renewed native garden in the infants' playground an indigenous feel, by decorating the tree stumps with their handprints painted in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island colours.

180810 NAIDOC SCC Collage 2 

St Michael’s, Mittagong

Special guests from the local Aboriginal community, along with members of the Catholic Education Office, Wingecarribee Shire Council and Chevalier College joined the St Michael’s, Mittagong school community for NAIDOC Week, including a special liturgy and morning tea at the school.

The day commenced with a workshop run by Aboriginal artist and performer, Adam Hill, who also works as a professional exhibiting painter, graphic artist, cartoonist and illustrator. The children enjoyed hearing Hill share his stories through performance, song, music, puppetry, language and the didgeridoo.

Students across each year level also participated in a variety of art activities in class. Staff and students agreed it was a very special day for the school.

180810 NAIDOC SMM Collage 

St Joseph’s, Albion Park

As part of the school’s participation in NAIDOC Week, St Joseph’s Catholic High School students and staff had an opportunity to experience the beautiful Bangarra Dance Theatre performance of 'Dark Emu' at the Sydney Opera House. Students were spellbound by the performance, as Bruce Pascoe’s book unfolded in dramatic dance. A highlight was meeting one of the dance company members and performers, Luke, after the show.

Meanwhile, the St Joseph’s didgeridoo group were fortunate to have CEDoW Aboriginal Education Assistant, Mark Mongta, teach the boys the skills of playing the didgeridoo throughout the term. The students said they have really enjoyed being a part of the group and sincerely thanked Mr Mongta for teaching them the skills to play and for sharing with them valuable information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. The group was so well received that it is being offered again this term at the school.

180810 NAIDOC SJAP Collage 

St Pius X, Unanderra

NAIDOC celebrations at St Pius X, Unanderra were bright with colour - the students all wearing mufti clothes in the Aboriginal colours of red, yellow and black. Their day started with a liturgy in the morning, followed by a hands-on workshop for each grade run by CEDoW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Officer, Karan Taylor.

The students got to pass around coolamons, dilly bags, digging sticks, emu callers and woven baskets. They were able to see how these items were used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to gather food, cook and look after their babies. The students loved touching and feeling the different textures of materials that the objects were made from.

Students also designed and painted NAIDOC rocks for their garden, and participated in the school’s NAIDOC colouring-in competition where the winners were given mini boomerangs.

180810 NAIDOC SPX Collage 

Holy Family, Ingleburn

NAIDOC Week was a whole school affair at Holy Family, Ingleburn. The school created a beautiful video to celebrate the occasion, with students, staff, parents and members of the school community - including CEDoW Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer, Sharynne Freeman - all involved. 

In recognition of this year's theme, individuals generously shared their stories and paid special tribute to the inspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their families, in the local community and across Australia. 

The school also unveiled their new school mural acknowledging Holy Family is built on Dharawal land. The mural sits proudly at the front of the school, a colourful welcome for all who enter.


St John the Evangelist, Campbelltown

St John’s, Campbelltown celebrated NAIDOC Week with a themed assembly. It included a special acknowledgement of country, prayer and the school’s indigenous choir performed the national anthem in Dharawal language.

Indigenous Australian writer, storyteller and inaugural Australian Children’s Laureate, Boori Monty Pryor, also visited St John’s to share in song, dance, stories and didgeridoo playing with the students.

180810 NAIDOC SJC Collage 

Celebrating AIME Hoodie Day 2018

Hoodies were everywhere around the CEO on National AIME Hoodie Day! On the day - which fell during NAIDOC Week - CEDoW staff joined our AIME program managers in wearing their 2018 AIME hoodies in support of the amazing work the AIME program has accomplished with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The artwork on the hoodie is by Serika Shillingsworth, a former AIME mentee in the University of Sydney program. It depicts her ongoing connection with the Brewarrina fish traps (Baimae’s Ngunnhu) and the cultural practices surrounding the sacred site.

180810 NAIDOC AIME Collage

Other schools also commemorated the week with assemblies, prayers and by promoting the local community NAIDOC Week events throughout the month of July, including: St Paul’s, Albion Park; St John’s, Dapto; Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow; St Brigid’s, Gwynneville; Ss Peter & Paul, Kiama; St Justin’s, Oran Park; St Thomas More, Ruse; Stella Maris, Shellharbour; Nazareth, Shellharbour City; St Michael’s, Thirroul; and St Francis of Assisi, Warrawong.


Read more about CEDoW’s NAIDOC Week celebrations - including Director of Schools, Peter Turner’s NAIDOC message to our school communities.


View all stories in Yarning Circle – News From Around The Diocese. View All News and Events.