Carinity celebrating our First Nations youth
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on August 4 is a time for all Australians to celebrate the impact that culture and family play in the life of Indigenous youth.
It is also an opportunity to showcase the communities working hard to raise strong and resilient future First Nations leaders.
Carinity is doing its part to help develop young members of the world’s oldest surviving culture into important members of their communities.
Around 42% of all students in Carinity Education’s five schools – in Townsville, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Hervey Bay – are Indigenous. That’s about five times the percentage of First Nations youth across all schools in Queensland.
“Aboriginal children play an important role in carrying their culture into the future. Carinity is proud to support a large number of young Indigenous Australians who attend our schools,” Carinity CEO Jon Campbell said.
Almost 90% of students at Carinity Education Shalom in Townsville identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and many speak English as their second language.
Alice and her four children found a new extended ‘family’ at Carinity Education Shalom. The children receive an education, learn important life skills, and enjoy cultural experiences that celebrate them being Indigenous Australians.
“Shalom was the first contact for my children to be amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff. My children get to see how other Indigenous families live and learn in this safe environment,” Alice said.
“The children just love it because it is such a community and a close-connected school. They love how they can practice their culture: singing and dancing and knowing that they do have an extended Shalom community family.”
The promotion of Indigenous culture is also an important facet of learning at Carinity Education Southside. A culturally diverse all-girls school in Brisbane, it has a high proportion of students who identify as First Nations people.
“Around 40% of our student population come from Indigenous Australian heritage. The students are loved and treated like family and are also supported by a large group of aunties on staff, and elders from the community,” school Principal Leann Faint said.
“At Southside we embrace and educate one another about different cultures, and we respect and care for the elders in our community. We encourage students’ natural gifts, creativity and connection with their culture through many activities.”
As well as their classroom education, Southside students enjoy extensive cultural learnings including off-site excursions and activities.
Recent cultural trips included a First Nations tour of Minjerrabah (North Stradbroke Island) and connection with Quandamooka Country, and participating in and witnessing important cultural burning to strengthen First Nations students’ connection to country.
The school participates in NAIDOC Week, Sorry Day events and National Reconciliation Week and students embrace the opportunity to engage in cultural pursuits with district elders such as yarning circles and sewing circles.
Expressions of creativity such as Indigenous theatre, dance, music and art are celebrated. The Ginibi Dancers are an Indigenous dance group who have been representing Southside since the school’s inception.
Just as Carinity Education schools continue to grow due to their popular educational model, so too are its students growing to become well-rounded young people ready to contribute to their community.
“Being in a place like Shalom, my children are always learning. There is always a cultural experience to learn and discover. Shalom has been a safe place. I love seeing the children comfortable in their skin,” Alice said.