History in the making

Latrobe Valley students are talking about indigenous history as Australia’s history in a series of art and cultural workshops at Lavalla Catholic College.

Gunai artist Ronald Edwards is taking to the school on Friday afternoons to immerse years seven, eight and nine students in art and indigenous culture.

Over six sessions, the 12 students will learn of indigenous symbols and find connections to their own culture and family.

Lavalla indigenous education liaison John De Souza said the workshops were part of a school initiative to enhance indigenous education.

He said by approaching indigenous people locally, the school could be better informed about what it should be teaching.

“We’ve got 20 indigenous students at this school and I believe we have more indigenous students than ever before and the numbers seem to be increasing,” Mr De Souza said.

“Raising awareness of Aboriginal culture, art and language is something we endeavour to do with both indigenous and non-indigenous students.

“What we’re trying to do is talk about it as not just indigenous history, this is Australian history and this is for both indigenous and non-indigenous students to learn.”

Mr Edwards hopes to tell the stories of his area and inspire the students to pursue their own artistic ventures.

He said a lot of people did not know about indigenous markings and designs that often differed from region to region – this would be a feature of the workshops.

He is hoping to explore more opportunities to deliver art and education in schools in 2017.

“I didn’t know about my culture in my school so it’s great to share and (for the students to) learn about the culture of the land they are living on,” Mr Edwards said.

“It’s great they are learning Aboriginal history as part of the workshop, but also they can do their own art as well in their own way.”

A group of 12 students is undergoing the first series this term before another group of students takes on the workshops next term.

Mr De Souza said he hoped students would develop an appreciation for Aboriginal art and culture.

“The more one learns about another culture, the more respect they can have for other people and other cultures,” he said.