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On Country fieldtrip

On 3 May 2017, a stunning Djeran (Autumn) Wednesday, 16 students from the School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work participated in an on Country Nyoongar cultural day.


Paula Clough and Sally Hunter, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work.
Paula Clough and Sally Hunter, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work.

On Binjereb and Wadjuk Country, where the Churchman Brook Dam sits, Curtin students, staff and family to sisters Elders Aunty Louise and Aunty Joanna came together. This marked the first meeting between these students and the Elders as part of the Reaching Across the Divide: Aboriginal Elders and Academics working together Curtin Learning and Teaching innovation project.

We were all warmly Welcomed to Country before being taken back in time to hear of some of the dreaming, stories of creation and mother earth. There were many activities throughout the day including the experience of stepping a few steps into the bush to hear, see, smell and feel the rich and diverse medicinal and food sources on display. Tools and weapons, made from our surroundings, were described and passed around. The didgeridoo was played representing many bird and animal sounds before all sounds were brought together in a rich display of talent by the player.

Participants enjoyed rock painting.
Participants enjoyed rock painting.
Everyone had fun dancing.
Everyone had fun dancing.

After an amazing kangaroo stew lunch, we formed small groups to braid and plait, rock paint, and make damper, all the while Aboriginal family members spoke of family, connection, history and their life experiences. There was great generosity, kindness, and willingness to share culture in a day that ended with students, staff and our Aboriginal hosts dancing, laughing and celebrating Nyoongar culture.

The next steps in the Curtin Learning and Teaching project include a number of yarning sessions between these 16 students, staff and Elders in an aim to reach across the divide and decolonise teaching and learning practices, and prepare these fourth year students for readiness to practice on completion of their courses.

Contributed by: Dr Antonia Hendrick, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work. Please contact Dr Hendrick if you would like more information about the project.