Mudgee students to visit remote WA Indigenous community
A small group of Mudgee students will make the 3,000 kilometre journey to a remote community in Western Australia this year to immerse themselves in the Indigenous culture.
The Yr 10 students from St Matthews will travel to Kununurra in the Eastern Kimberley where they will spend seven days learning.
It’s the fourth time the school has taken part in the program facilitated by Catholic Mission – the international mission agency of the Catholic Church in Australia.
“It’s an immersion program where the kids go and immerse with the community, they develop relationships, they don’t build anything, they don’t paint anything, so it is going in and developing relationships,” Indigenous Immersion coordinator Fran Kelly said.
Twelve Indigenous communities are engaged with the program and just one group visits per year to protect the community.
“Students learn about the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, they see the disparities, they engage with the disparities, we look at the facts”, Ms Kelly said.
“So we do it from an educational background with the hope that we are going to break down some barriers in Australia and that they can influence the next generation and their kids”.
Upon their return students share their experience with their school, parishes, and wider community.
Having travelled on numerous immersion trips Ms Kelly said she has found “culture shock transforms the heart”.
The trip will be the fourth immersion for St Matthews’ teacher and organiser Lois Bray.
“It gives our students at St Matthews in Mudgee a really good opportunity to experience a life that is quite different to the one we have here and also of course education and so on,” Ms Bray said.
“So we’re going there to be immersed, we’re not going to teach or to do. We’re going to be part of the community”.
She said students do a lot of growing up on the trip away from their families.
“I’m hoping that they will see life differently and see that the community we visit will be different which doesn’t make us right and them wrong it’s just a different way of living and connecting to the land”.
Student are currently fundraising for the July excursion.
By Ellie Watson
Courtesy of The Mudgee Guardian