Dinosaur footprints, bush tuck, Dreaming stories and learning to fish - all part of a day for Newman College students visiting the Broome Campus

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 2-10-2009

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Gaining awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture was the aim of a program offered to Year 11 and 12 students from Newman College in collaboration with The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus in September.

As an important part of their two week program, students and staff spent time in, and around, the Kimberley town of Broome.

Notre Dame’s Indigenous staff members provided them with an introduction to Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal Australian historical and contemporary issues; including Aboriginal Spirituality and Dreaming, kinship systems, language, the importance of Country and numerous policies and government legislation that have impacted on Aboriginal people over the last 120 years .

Students visited two Aboriginal organisations in Broome, the Nirrumbuk Skills Centre and Goolarri Media Enterprise, where they gained an insight into how Aboriginal organisations are governed and the way they co-exist with non-Indigenous organisations.

Broome Campus lecturer, Joe Edgar, accompanied by his brother Jim, both members of the Yawaru community, hosted the group on an excursion to Mungala-gun (Crab Creek) where they learnt about Yawaru seasons and heard the Dreaming stories of the area.

Joe and Jim introduced them to bush tucker and bush medicine, showed them how to recognise animal tracks, and helped them find dinosaur footprints!

A valuable opportunity for the students was to meet Leonie Kelly, a local Aboriginal woman, who grew up on the Beagle Bay Mission which was establish by the Sisters of St John of God who had travelled from Ireland to work with the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley.

Leonie shared her memories of life on the Mission at Beagle Bay.

“This gave the students an excellent idea of the history of Beagle Bay and prepared them for the time which they were to spend with the Beagle Bay community,” said teacher, Josephine Hutcheson.

During their time with the community, they had three days work experience at the school where they were assigned to a classroom to work with the children. On their last day they were joined by a group of Indigenous students from One Arm Point.

Ms Hutcheson explained that they were shown how to do bark painting and to fish in the traditional way with a handcrafted spear.

“They managed to spear a few fish and a stingray and also catch some crabs which they cooked and ate while listening to stories told by some of the Bardi Elders,” she said.

The students’ feedback about the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness program was overwhelmingly positive and for some, life-changing.

Newman College student Maddi Pugsley shared, “Until now I only knew of the stereotypical Aboriginal who you hear about in the media. My time at Broome has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal people and their culture.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor & Director of the Nulungu Centre, Professor Lyn Henderson-Yates said that she was delighted with the success of the Newman College visit.

“It has been a pleasure hosting the students and staff of Newman College. It is very important for the Broome Campus to have the opportunity to share the story of Aboriginal people,” said Professor Henderson-Yates.

“Not only were these students provided with a classroom learning experience about policies and legislation, but they were also immersed in Aboriginal culture.

“It is our hope that they will take away with them a little of what it means to be Aboriginal in Australia today.”

Media contact: Michelle Ebbs 08 9433 0610, 0408 959 138