Notre Dame and Clontarf students grow together

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 29-10-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Indigenous youth have the opportunity to hone their literacy skills, forge life-long friendships, build confidence and tell their stories through participation in the literacy program offered via The University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) and Clontarf Aboriginal College partnership.

A recent gallery-walk, entitled ‘My Story’, exhibiting a culmination of months of young Indigenous students’ work and achievements, was available for public viewing at a special-event held at Clontarf. The aim of the exhibition was to promote the growing confidence of students, whilst demonstrating the quality of work derived from unique bonds formed between Indigenous youth and UNDA pre-service teachers.

Senior Lecturer in Education, Glenda Cain, said the program had enabled pre-service teachers to combine service learning, literacy teaching and learning related to Indigenous culture and education in the one setting, whilst reflecting on breaking down the barriers of societal misconceptions and focusing on human relationships.

“In particular, for the pre-service teachers, it has enabled the practical application of skills and knowledge related to teaching and literacy learning,” Ms Cain said.

“The importance of literacy has been highlighted and students’ confidence to learn and apply these skills has been supported and showcased through the joint construction of ‘My Story’.”

Ms Cain said there had been a strikingly noticeable change in the level of interaction between the students of both Clontarf and UNDA as the semester progressed.

“There have been friendly greetings, laughter and a more relaxed atmosphere as the students have come to know and work together,” she said.

“They have shown greater engagement with the formal learning tasks and individualised programs have developed. A Clontarf staff member also commented about the growth in confidence of students while working with the UNDA pre-service teachers.

“There is the real sense that a learning community has developed with respect, empathy and excitement shared by all.”

Clontarf student, Thomas Cox of Halls Creek, who insisted his tutor of nine weeks, Bianca Florenca, attend the gallery-walk with him, said the program had given him the opportunity to learn and grow as a person whilst making lots of new friends.

“I’m reading much better than ever before and I’ve made a lot of friends with other boys from Perth and all over,” Mr Cox said.

“I started off not talking to anyone but just the boys and I felt a bit sad and didn’t really want to talk and later on I started to talk more with everyone and now it’s like I’ve known them all for years.”

According to Ms Cain, a number of UNDA pre-service teachers involved in the program are now exploring the possibility of a remote practicum in 2011. For the Clontarf students, it is hoped they will continue to grow in confidence and remember the times when they excelled while helping a UNDA student to become a better teacher.

“The interactions through this experience have changed attitudes. It is a significant outcome of this initiative. At the heart of teaching is the relationship between the teacher and the student,” she said.

Media Contact:

Andrea Barnard (+61) 8 9433 0610, Mob (+61) 0408 959 138