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NEWS AND PUBLICATIONS > Community > NAIDOC Week 2023: How LN is Nurturing Student Connection to First Nations Culture & Elders

NAIDOC Week 2023: How LN is Nurturing Student Connection to First Nations Culture & Elders

LN is strengthening the vital connection between students and First Nations peoples through immersive learning experiences that bring First Nations culture and education to a new generation.
6 Jul 2023
Year 10 Homelands 2023
Year 10 Homelands 2023

Understanding the profound importance of forging a meaningful bond between new generations and First Nations culture, Loreto Normanhurst is proud to showcase ongoing curriculum innovation this NAIDOC Week (2nd – 9th July). Through an emphasis on deep learning and immersion programming, the school enhances student learning outcomes and understanding of First Nations culture and encourages students to recognise and become advocates for societal inequality.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘For Our Elders’, champions the value of intergenerational knowledge sharing for new generations. In recognition of the important role Elders continue to play in First Nations education, Loreto Normanhurst demonstrates a strong emphasis on creating immersive, deep learning opportunities within the school curriculum to connect students to First Nations culture as guided by the storytelling and voices of Elders.

Among the curriculum highlights is Loreto Normanhurst’s annual Year 10 Homelands immersion. In early April 2023, students embarked on a 9-day transformative journey across First Nations Homelands, experiencing the richness of First Nations culture firsthand. From the ancestral wisdom of Cape York to the landscapes of Arnhem Land and Central Australia, this in-person expedition went beyond textbooks, igniting enthusiasm towards advocacy in support of First Nations peoples and culture by students.

"The immersion had a profound impact on our students' understanding of First Nations culture and history. Through deep learning, they were able to connect intimately with the land, participate in cultural activities, and learn from the wisdom of First Nations peoples. This transformative experience has equipped them with the skills to actively contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society,” said Jason Currao, Acting Director of Faith and Identity at Loreto Normanhurst.

Staying on sacred Country land, participating in cultural activities, and learning directly from respected Elders, Loreto Normanhurst students were able to deepen their understanding of culture and strengthen relationships with some of Australia’s most remote First Nations communities. The Year 10 Homelands trip builds on the learnings of Loreto Normanhurst’s Year 8 Songlines and Year 9 Far North Queensland immersive experiences to provide students with a curriculum that is authentic and responsive to the demands of our times.

When reflecting on their Homelands experience, Loreto Normanhurst students spoke passionately about the impact it had on their learning perspectives.

Year 10 Student, Keenor said, “Our Homelands immersion was a way to open our eyes to the lives of First Nations peoples through learning stories and sharing laughter with the members of the community. I feel as if I learned the true significance of land and connection to these peoples by participating in community life and discovering how we can move towards reconciliation.”

“This immersion has inspired and motivated me to continue to support programs and initiatives pushing for constitutional action. I have learned more about how to uplift and support First Nations voices and participate in challenges and events which raise awareness on issues which affect First Nations peoples and illuminate the path forwards to reconciliation,” said Year 10 Loreto Normanhurst student, Maya.

Fellow Year 10 student Lilli continued, "I found great value in the profound connection I developed with Country and the comprehensive insights I gained into the rich culture of First Nations peoples. Through this experience, I deepened my understanding of the multifaceted challenges they face, including issues surrounding education, healthcare, and social barriers.”

Loreto Normanhurst Year 10 students will be given the unique opportunity to apply their learnings to become the next generation driving change as they travel to the political engine-room of Canberra in early August. In continuation of the school’s deep learning approach, students will learn how government processes work and put forward recommendations to parliament on what needs to be done to assist with improving the injustices experienced by First Nations peoples in these remote areas and advocate for a more inclusive society.

“This experience encapsulates the deep learning premise that we need to provide students with real opportunities to become change agents. By immersing students in the cultural tapestry of First Nations lands, we ensure our students develop a holistic understanding of the First Nations cultures that shape Australia's identity and are actively encouraged to act against social injustice,” emphasises Jason.

Loreto Normanhurst will celebrate NAIDOC Week 2023 in Term 3 with an array of school events including weaving workshops held by First Nations students and the creation of a chalk drawing celebrating the 2023 theme ‘For Our Elders’. Year 10 students will travel to Canberra in August.

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