Worawa Term 4 Newsletter 2018

We are proud that Worawa is the only Aboriginal owned and governed school in Victoria, and, the only boarding school in the whole of Australia that caters specifically for Aboriginal girls.

And as such it has a unique place in Indigenous Education. Worawa is a place of learning – a place where we can not only learn, but also celebrate our culture and practice our Aboriginal Ways of Knowing, Doing and Being.

At Worawa we embrace the diversity of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. We honour the rich cultural traditions, the languages, the art and the experiences of our Indigenous communities across the country.

On Presentation Day we celebrate the achievements of our students who come from communities across the country. We are delighted that a former student returned to share her story and we heard from a current student and a parent.


Presentation Day 2018

Presentation Day 2018 was an amazing day to celebrate the achievements of our student’s over, not only this year, but throughout their time at Worawa and beyond. We were privileged to have Her Excellency, The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and Mr Anthony Howard QC join us in our celebration. Read the inspirational Keynote Address delivered by former student Narelle Urquhart, the 2018 Student Speech by Ms Katelyn Woodhouse and Parent Response by Ms Melissa Bin Busu and view accompanying images. We thank you for your support.


Keynote Speaker – Narelle Urquhart

Your Excellency, Mr Howard, Elders & Distinguished Guests, Aunty Lois, students, Friends. It is a pleasure to be here today.

Can l begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians on whose land we are gathered and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

I am pleased to be here today to share my story with you. I am a proud Wiradjuri woman born 1971 Leeton NSW. I also have Scottish heritage of which l am also proud of. (The Urquhart clan is where the Loch Ness monster is supposed to be) Two amazing Clans from opposite sides of the world!

Although l was born on our traditional country l did not grow up there. My mother was a part of the Stolen Generation and at the age of 11 years, was sent to Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home operated by the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Board to provide training for girls forcibly taken from their families under the Aborigines Protection Act. She was sent with her two baby sisters and her brothers were sent to Kinchella Aboriginal Boys Training Home, for boys between the ages of 5 and 15… until they were old enough to be sent out to work.

Narelle Urquhart

At Cootamundra, my mother was trained as a domestic servant and at 14 years of age was sent out to ‘service’ to a white family in Canberra until she was ‘released from service’ at the age of eighteen. She returned to Leeton and married my father.

When l was 4 years old my parents decided to separate and through this process, my 5 siblings and I were placed in a Catholic Nunnery in Kincumber, Gosford. We were there for just over two years which was quite a traumatic time.

When I was around 6 years old my father took us and fled to Victoria, we lived in quite poor conditions and was given a home and welfare workers in Kerang. We later moved to Robinvale on the Murray River where there was a lot of seasonal work.

Throughout our childhood we always had a welfare worker, they would check if our house was clean, that we had food and that we attended school. Throughout my young years, we were often in and out of foster care.

When I was 13 years old l left school without ever having completed a full year of high school. I believed l didn’t need an education because l was only ever going to be a fruit picker.

I subsequently l left home at 14 years of age.

From this time on I was on and off the streets. In one of those times l was found by the authorities and sent down here to Worawa College, l had just turned 15.

I remember my time here, all be it short, because of the amazing principle. She was a beautiful Aboriginal lady who was proud of herself, knew who she was and had accomplished so much, she had an air of excellence, something that l had not seen before in what was my tragic circumstances. I will always remember her and not only for her beauty but more importantly the strength in which she carried herself.

After my time here at Worawa, l went back to my hometown and had a baby which tragically died before l gave birth. This was a devastating time. At the age of 16 and alone, l had to have a funeral and go through the grieving period as a young person that was still living ruff.

After this time l decided to move to Canberra to connect with my mother, although l had met her when l was 14 l felt it was time to really know her.

She was an amazing woman who had fought hard for us as a people, she was an artist, a poet and an activist.

I lived in Queanbeyan and Canberra for 12 years and had my three daughters there. Whilst living there I couldn’t get a decent job, so I went to TAFE and completed Years 11 and 12, in which I received an award for 1st in a math’s exam.

Fast forward to now. I am a mother of 4, my children are 27, 25, 22 and 16. I have lived on the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers for nearly 20 years.

I currently work at Bond University as the Indigenous Cultural Support Officer. A position that l have held for 6 years. Not only do l work full time but l also have two businesses and am about to recommence my study in Law. I have raised my children as a single mum, and they have been my greatest achievement.

Two of my daughters are graduates of Bond University.

Sinead studied a Bachelor of International Relations followed by her Masters, she went on to work at the Department of Defense in Canberra for three years and has just moved back Brisbane to work and start a family.

My second daughter Jessica studied a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Counseling. She took a position with the Attorney General’s Department in Canberra and has recently returned home to get married and take a position with the CSIRO.

My third daughter Katrina is married and works at Pacific Hope Christian school with her husband assisting with autistic children and hopes to become a missionary.

My son Malachi who is 16 is currently being homeschooled and wants to study Film and Television at Bond University.

In saying all this, although l have had a tough background, and l have had to overcome so much, having key people and moments in my life have helped to shape who l am.

It has given me courage, hope and empathy to walk out an amazing life as an Indigenous woman who hopefully can inspire young people just as Aunty and Worawa have and continues to inspire me. It is my hope that Australia will grow into a unified nation with the knowledge and blessings of First Nations People.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to ‘find myself’ at Worawa Aboriginal College and, as with many past students, it has been a significant time in the lives of many.

A place that nurtured the identity of each student and empowered them to rise above the challenges in their lives.

To feel the positivity of being a person of Aboriginal heritage and taking deep pride in knowing that you belong to the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

To have the knowledge, pride and confidence to hand that knowledge down to your children and being able to Walk in Both Worlds.

Student Presentation Day Speech – Katelyn Woodhouse

Your Excellency, Mr Howard, Dr Lois Peeler, guests, teachers and students.

I want to start by acknowledging the Wurundjeri people, the original custodians of the land which we meet on. I want to pay my respects to their elders past, present and future.

My name is Katelyn Woodhouse I’m a year 11 student here at Worawa, this is my first year at the school and of VCAL. I come from a small town called Halls Creek that’s located in the North of Western Australia. I have five older brothers and a six-year-old foster sister. My family is the most important part of my life. I’m a part of the Kimberley and the Deserts. My language groups are Jaru from my dad’s side and Kija from my mum’s side.

I chose to leave home hoping to improve my education, find out more about myself and test what independent living was like. I thought being away from home for a long period of time would get easier the longer I was away, but over time it seemed to just get harder and harder. I felt as if I was missing out on everything like I was drifting away from my family and I even started to believe it. Trying to avoid the way I felt I shut everything out. I tried to deal with things by talking less, not calling home and kept my feelings bottled up hoping they would just disappear. But that wasn’t until I realised that maybe I was doing it all wrong and taking things for granted. Expressing how I felt and getting involved made me realise that this is the place I want to learn and finish my education. Now Worawa has become my second home.

I could literally make a list of things that I’ve had the opportunity to do here at Worawa but it’d just be too long, so I will tell you the ones that really stand out to me. I and other students got to be a part of an Aboriginal flag raising event at the Government House where we sang Ngarra Burra Ferra, toured some of the grand rooms and ate delicious food. I was a part of the Pathways to Womanhood Program where I learnt how to take care of myself, table manners, boosted my self-esteem and so much more. I and others then celebrated our achievements at the debutant dreaming ball. I even had the opportunity to umpire on an AusKick game at halftime on the MCG during the Sir Doug Nicholls Round ‘Dreamtime at the G’. There were so many smiles, that experience is going to be for a long time and one I won’t forget.

This year was the first year that Worawa has had VCAL and being a part of it has been great. I have really enjoyed VCAL as it has given so many opportunities and has taught me so much. It has really expanded my view of what I can achieve. The program has allowed me to grow so much and find myself along the way. I have done barista training, participated in university excursions, attended a case in the Koori Court, did driving lessons at METEC, worked with Ranges Tech and completed my Cert II in Business. I have also done work experience in the gym at the Healesville RACV Country Club where I learnt how they ran the gym, joined in with sessions and how to make a program that fits the customer’s needs. I was also a sports teacher’s aide at the Badger Creek Primary school.

My overall experience of Worawa has been great. I’ve learnt so much – most importantly I’ve allowed myself to grow. I am so grateful for how much support the school offers and all of the opportunities. The girls are amazing people, when I first attended the school I felt so welcomed and I made instant friends that are going to last a lifetime. It’s amazing how we all come from different parts of Australia and unite together as one in a community where we’re exposed to many opportunities, share culture, focusing on our education and making pathways for our future.

The sports Worawa offers is not only a great way to be involved and stay active but is sort of a distraction from home that helps the days go by quicker as it keeps you busy. The staff being teachers, house parents and others are a great support, they have helped many of us get through the year.

I plan to attend the University of Western Australia located in Perth after I graduate and study anything to do with sports. I want to become a personal trainer or a sports teacher, but the law has caught my eye as I want to be involved with Indigenous affairs. I want to be able to help my people but who knows what the future holds for me. As long as I have some sort of idea everything should work out fine. For those girls who feel as if they’re finding it rough or that they don’t want to be here, remember the sacrifices you’re making being away from home. You’re getting a better education, making something of yourself and making your family proud – they make the stay so worth it. It shows you that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. The best way to predict your future is to create it. Be the creator of your own future, follow your dreams and focus on your education. As Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Be the one to make that Change.

Parent Response Presentation Day – Ms Melissa Bin Busu

Your Excellency, Mr Howard, Elders & Distinguished Guests, Aunty Lois, students, Friends – Good morning.

First I would like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri People and Elders, past present & future.

My name is Melissa Bin Busu a proud Kija woman from Halls Creek in Western Australia, which is on the edge on the Tanami & Great Sandy Deserts, it has a population of about 1600 people. The majority of the people living there are mostly of Aboriginal descent. It is a lovely little town , rich in history of gold, beautiful landscapes , old timers, cattlemen, horsemen and fresh water springs which never run dry, but like many other small community towns in the Kimberly, it has its problems dealing with social issue like domestic violence, alcohol/drug abuse, crime, homelessness where some people still today live in third world conditions , living conditions are appalling , no running water or electricity those who are lucky enough to live in houses have sewerage problems, homes are overcrowded and falling apart, and people have to wait months for repairs, no access to trained health professionals to deal with youth issues, councillors, dentist, renal specialist for example live in the bigger towns and can only visit once every three months, health issues where children and families have no access to fresh food.

On a lighter note, I am honoured and feel very privileged to speak to you all today on this special occasion as a proud parent of a student. My daughter, Katelyn Woodhouse, whom I’m very proud of as I’ve seen her grow and mature into a beautiful young woman, she has shown me she can adapt to her surroundings and take on different and new challenges, in order to be here, she has overcome some very difficult challenges & changes in her life – dealing with bullying, verbal abuse and peer pressure in her previous schools.

Changes of traveling a long distance to be here, dealing with homesickness, missing her family, missing sorry business times, birthdays and milestones. School rules, boarding house rules, the weather, her diet, sleep patterns, due to Melbourne’s time difference to ours in Western Australia. I’m very proud to say Katelyn wants to be a leader & role model for her family, friends and countrymen.

The main reasons I chose to send Katelyn to Worawa for her last years of education is because I liked the idea of the two way of learning Worawa offers which gives Katelyn the best of both worlds, doing the Australian curriculum and how it takes into account Aboriginal culture, values, spiritual beliefs and learning styles which I strongly believe should be taught in all schools to benefit our Indigenous children. I basically wanted Katelyn to see there is life beyond Halls Creek and I felt Worawa would provide more opportunities, not just in normal everyday education, but in a way that would expose Katelyn to new challenges that could help her to grow, experience and further her education. I would like to thank Worawa and the staff for giving Katelyn the opportunity to do so. I would like to say to you, Katelyn that I love you and want you to know how proud I am of you and the sacrifices you made to be here. I’ll be with you every step of the way in any decisions or choices you make regarding your higher education and life.

I am pleased to know that Worawa provides accommodation in a safe, caring, nurturing environment, where opportunities for art, sport, recreation, & self-development are supported. Also I like that Worawa has guest speakers, role models, Aboriginal Elders from different organisations, sporting groups and communities who come to the school to talk about their personal journey and achievements, to motivate the students that their dreams are special no matter how big or small, teach them about the country, and all it has to offer and to teach them to be strong independent woman and leaders in their communities and homes, inspire them to believe anything is possible and encourage all the students to follow their dreams.

Lastly I would like to say to all the students of Worawa, education is the way to gain knowledge and understanding for our people, to empower yourself and them. To talk up and be strong role models for your towns and communities I know some of you may not think so now, but it’s the only way for all of us to move forward for generations to come. Believe in yourself, dream big, and strive for the best you can be. Always remember to be proud of who you are and be proud of where you come from, and just be thankful, as you all have been given a massive opportunity others wish they had. Thank you.

English / Literacy

This term has seen students achieve some spectacular improvements in Literacy. Supported by the teachers across all Curriculum areas and our wonderful Aides, Vicky and Grace, we have seen individual students leap 10 or more levels in the PM Reading Benchmarks.

The girls have been continuing to read many different texts and experimenting successfully with a variety of writing styles in their own pieces. We are sharing just two examples of student work, the result of careful planning and perfecting to produce very thoughtful and moving final pieces.

Bringing Them Home and the Stolen Generations

by Paris Carpio

Bringing Them Home was the name given to the final report of the National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Between 1910 and 1970 many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families and country as a result of various government policies. This became known as the Stolen Generations. The children were taken away because the government believed that they didn’t have a future and would be better off learning the white ways. Often they were forced to stop speaking language and reject their Indigenous heritage.

In my opinion, this was not fair at all, my father and his siblings were removed from their family and sent to the Moore River Native Settlement, my aunty was abused whilst in their care. Children were supposedly taken away because they would have a better life but the only thing that came out of it was grief for the families and children and a loss of knowledge for their culture. Many children were psychologically, physically, and sexually abused while living in state care or with adoptive families. Medical experts have noted a high incidence of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and suicide among the Stolen Generations.

Studies have shown that the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care has doubled in the decade since the 2008 Apology to the Stolen Generations, I believe the government is still failing Indigenous families. The children of the Stolen Generations deserve to be recognized everywhere; people need to know about the past and the pain that was caused to our people. No one should ever have to go through that, no matter what race or skin color. I believe some people may not realize it wasn’t that long ago. No child should be taken away from their family.

Teenage Days

by Jessica Byford

We aren’t prepared somedays,
We get scared somedays,
We get stuck somedays,
We get lost somedays,
We seek help somedays,
We want to yell somedays,
We are queens somedays,
We can be mean somedays,
These are just our teenage days,
We all have faults,
We all have goals,
We all have stories that are untold,
We are all young, sometimes play dumb,
We are very different but very same,
When we hit our teenage days,
Our attitude may change,
Our looks may change,
But remember live it up,
Whilst it’s your teenage days!

Christmas Party

Students, their families and staff gathered to enjoy our annual Christmas tree event. A beautiful Christmas dinner with all the trimmings was lovingly prepared by Chef Sharon.

The event was held in the evening overlooking our beautiful Dreaming Trail. It is a great opportunity for students to introduce their families to their teachers, house parents and friends.

The atmosphere was full of joy and laughter as stories were shared and people from many different places came together to celebrate. We were even lucky enough to have a visit from Santa and three helpers who ‘flew in’ to spread Christmas cheer.

The Elves helped Santa distribute gifts for each student, thanking them for a wonderful year and wishing them happy holidays as they head home to be with their families over the holiday period.

VCAL Year 11 Outcomes

This year has been the first year for Year 11 VCAL at Worawa. Next year is the very first group of Year 12 VCAL students. There have been many highlights as well as many character building challenges. Each year level of VCAL at Worawa is designed to prepare students for future employment, study and community leadership and commitment. Students this year have participated in projects about Aboriginal rights and contact history, they have been involved in work placements and traineeships and they have kicked goals when it comes to vocational skills in the areas of business and hospitality. Skills in both of these fields are invaluable as students make their way towards a career they choose whether it be for part-time work or so that they have the computer and people skills for any type of employment and career. As students embark on their last year of secondary school in 2019, students will be planning in detail and on a very practical level, the next steps in their journey. This includes confirming university and further study or employment opportunities as well as accommodation, networking and support services as they make this exciting but challenging transition in their lives. Congratulations to the girls, families and communities for supporting the commitment to education and opportunities in the future.

Experiences in STEAM at Worawa

This term in STEAM students have been studying the first form of Science, Astronomy, and learning about the stories of the first astronomers in the World, Aboriginal Astronomers. To support their in-class learning, students visited the Planetarium to experience ‘Stories in the Stars’, a visual retelling of stories from the Boorong people of North-West Victoria.

The night sky was brought to life on the unique dome-shaped screen of the Planetarium allowing the students to pinpoint the exact location of the star constellations highlighted in ‘Stories in the Stars’ and bring the stories to life.

Students were also inspired to follow careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through participation in the inaugural Air 4 Life event. The whole school woke up early for a 7:30 am bus to Luna Park where they were joined by 700 other young women from around Melbourne. The event was sponsored by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), the Air Force and the Defence Science Institute and focused on celebrating women in STEM. During the day students had the opportunity to meet and talk with some of Australia’s most accomplished women within the STEM fields who shared their life stories, struggles and achievements. The main focus of the day was showcasing how STEM knowledge and concepts are vital to the functioning of objects we take for granted in everyday life, including the mechanisms of theme park rides that we all enjoy so much. Naturally, the students had to test that the theories and concepts were accurate by trying out the rides!

While the rest of the student body were climbing onto the bus for Luna Park, three Year 8 students Indiana, Kyanna and Miranda were in a taxi heading to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport for the annual Pymble National Exchange. The girls enjoyed four jam-packed days were they experienced living and learning at a school with 2000 students, participated in a surfing lesson at Manly beach and saw the iconic sites of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The girls had a wonderful experience catching city trains and sharing stories with fellow students from all around Australia and forming life-long friendships.

Our year in STEAM was rounded out with participation in ‘We Have An Opportunity’ a Digital Fabrication Challenge at Lauriston Girls School. Valerie, Mary-Cruz, Eucharia and Elizabeth represented the school with pride and displayed the Worawa Ways during the 3-day challenge. The girls experienced inner-city living, catching public transport to Lauriston each day and worked as a team to develop, design and prototype a Phone App to educate about the diversity of contemporary Aboriginal culture. The challenge ended with a presentation where the girls demonstrated strength and pride talking about their heritage and presenting their application design.

Cadet Ranger Program

This term three students from the Worawa Cadet Ranger Program, Lornie, Deborah and Jessica, travelled to Sydney to present at the annual ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ showcase event held at Qantas headquarters.

Students were given a full tour of the Qantas building which highlighted sustainability improvements. Our students presented an activity that identifies the Wurundjeri Seasonal Calendar highlighting the indicators such as animal behaviours, plant cycles and the cultural events that happen throughout the year.

The calendar comes from the region that the College is located on and we have been able to collate images and weather charts to assist the students in identifying visual clues as to when the seasonal changes occur.

The girls enjoyed the opportunity to share the local knowledge they have gathered this year for the seasonal calendar. We look forward to the Keeper Program next year at Healesville Sanctuary and developing more resources to work with sharing important sustainability and conservation information in creative ways.

Sports at Worawa

Sport is a huge part of life at Worawa and the entire Worawa community loves to be involved and watch girls grow and develop their sporting skills.

Throughout the term the girls worked together to develop as a team which shone through in how they communicated and encouraged one another whether on the basketball, or netball court, footy field or softball pitch.

The girls played their final basketball match for the year on our last day of term, with friends and family cheering them on and echoing throughout the stadium to bring an incredible energy and joy t

o all the girls playing, it was a special night to end a great year of basketball.

This year we held our very own Sports Presentation Awards event held at the Yarra Valley Lodge, to acknowledge the contribution and support of coaches, organisations and supporters to celebrate the effort and achievement of all of our students in sport.

The award for Sports Woman of the Year went to Milena Mosquito.

Worawa Walk

Throughout Term 4 students participated in the Melbourne to Darwin walk by doing laps of the oval at lunch and recess. Each lap counted for 24 kilometres towards their trek to Darwin, with students earning prizes at designated towns along the way. It was good to see most of the students doing laps at some point over the term, with over 33 students participating.

While walking the students were able to have some great conversations as well as feeling good after exercising. The first students to complete the 160 laps (an actual total of 64 kilometres) and reach Darwin was Katelyn Woodhouse, followed by Mary-Cruz Fernadez and Valerie Warramurra. All received prizes, including a t-shirt designed by Katelyn, for their achievement in rigour, persistence and reaching goals.

Traditional Dancers Shine

Our talented group of traditional dancers capped off a stellar year of culture and performances with a wonderful performance of Lungurrma (North Wind) in front of the Governor of Victoria and many other distinguished guests and family members on Presentation Day.

During this term, the dancers have practised and shared dances from several different regions. Earlier in the term. the girls danced for a large group of visitors from Deloitte, many of whom had not had the opportunity to see traditional dance previously.

It is exciting to see the girls sharing dances from different areas, as diverse as Croker Island, Elcho Island and the Central Desert, and taking on the responsibilities of being custodians and teachers, honouring and sharing their stories and knowledge with confidence and pride. Students from partner school Pymble Ladies College in Sydney were entranced on our Culture Day to be able to share many new experiences and very much enjoyed watching the dancers and learning a little about the meanings of the dances.

Sports Academy

Students in the Sports Academy received their IAAF Coaching Kids in Athletics Certificates from Athletics Australia and quickly put their coaching and leadership skills to work by organising the school House Athletics Day. They organised all of the students into house teams, named after successful female athletes Nova Peris, Cathy Freeman, Evonne Goolagong and Shantelle Thompson. They organised the event and equipment and conducted house meetings, allocating students into events.

The Athletics Day was held at Yarra Ranges Athletic Track and the girls dressed in their house colours to represent their teams. The students participated in many events including 100 sprint, long jump and shot put. The highlights of the day would have to be the team tug-of-war and the team relay. The students had a great day participating in all the events and cheering on each other. The winner of the day was blue house – Team Peris.



Download Term 4 Newsletter 2018

Presentation Day 2018

presentation day class 2018

The 2018 school year is coming to its conclusion and we are preparing to celebrate the achievements of our students throughout the year. We invite you to join with us in this celebration on our Presentation Day with our Guest of Honour, her excellency The Honourable Linda Dessau AC Governor of Victoria.

Following the Awards Ceremony guests may adjourn to the Sandra Bardas Gallery to view an exciting exhibition of Aboriginal fine art by our students and communities they come from. This event is not suitable for your young children.

When: 12 December 2018
Time: 11.00am
Where: 60-80 Barak Lane, Healesville
RSVP By 5 December 2018
RSVP is essential. Guests must be seated by 10.50am.

Governor Linda Dessau Portrait

Keynote Speaker
Narelle Urquhart

Narelle Urquhart is a Wiradjuri woman from Leeton, NSW. As a child, under the policy and mindset of the day, Narelle and her siblings were removed from family and placed in an institution in Grafton and later moved to Robinvale. Difficult times saw Narelle homeless for a time. She then became a student at Worawa Aboriginal College. Narelle credits her experience at Worawa in developing self-efficacy and resilience which she applied in overcoming many challenges to ‘live’ the change that she had always dreamt of.

Today, Narelle is a strong advocate for education. She currently holds the position of Indigenous Cultural Support Officer at Bond University. In this role, she helped to establish the Nyombil Support Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students which provides a culturally safe and supportive learning environment for Indigenous students.

An accomplished artist, Narelle’s art shows the beauty that lies deep within her Aboriginal culture and reflects her thoughts and feelings about the past and present, whether it be traditional stories, contemporary issues, social justice or her focus art, the Gospel.

A mother of four, Narelle feels her biggest accomplishment through art, work and family has been her children and the vision they hold for themselves through the role she has played in their lives as a single mum. She also loves to be involved in her community.

Narelle Urquhart



RSVP is now closed.

Event Details

12 December 2018


60-80 Barak Lane, Healesville

5 December 2018

Worawa Term 3 Newsletter 2018

Debutante Dreaming

Every Debutante Dreaming Ball is like a new event. Unique, accomplished young women are presented as graduates of our Pathways to Womanhood Program to our esteemed Elders each time. This year was no exception, as 11 couples stood before over 250 people in the Grand Ballroom of Pullman on the Park as they acknowledged their will to walk into young adulthood with pride in who they are, in their achievements in Pathways to Womanhood and most importantly, proud of who they are as young Aboriginal women.

Worawa Ambassadors (students who are continuing into Senior School after previously being presented as Debutantes) opened the evening with the Acknowledgement of Country. This was followed by a beautiful traditional dance performed by junior students from the College. It was a very moving beginning to a premiere night in the life of Worawa College. Our inaugural Pathways to Womanhood Ambassador, Montana Ah-won was interviewed by the emcee, Shelley Ware. Montana spoke of an early life that was harsh and marked by some struggle, but also of her fortunate childhood with her adoptive father. Montana shared an honest account of a life that had both challenges and successes. She encouraged the students to set goals and to keep going, even when things don’t go the way they had hoped. Montana has been Miss Kimberley and Apprentice of the Year WA. Worawa is thrilled to have such an admirable young Ambassador represent the Pathways to Womanhood.


Graduating students, Katelyn Woodhouse and Mary-Cruz Fernandez spoke on behalf of the graduates. These young women spoke of their ambitions and the deep respect they have for their communities and families. It was both gratifying and a matter of pride for Worawa, as they both shared the importance the College has had in their journey towards becoming positive and goal oriented young adults. They also looked to their fellow graduates and expressed the gratitude they felt in finding friends and sisters ‘for life.’ The evening continued as the student couples

were presented to the Elders as young people who had completed the Pathways to Womanhood Program. Then, the students skillfully demonstrated the dances they had learned for the event. Guests were entertained by the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) with talented musician, Jack Hickey providing the musical tone as the guests arrived. Throughout the evening Yorta Yorta guitar virtuoso, Nathanial Andrew and the very talented Naomi Summers shared their musical expertise and ACPA’s talented emerging artists, presented a ‘Soul Revue’.

Debutante Dreaming has deep significance for our community. It marks the progress of this generation and honours the courage and resilience of the original Aboriginal Debutantes, 1949, who held their event in the face of prejudice and exclusion. Worawa honours those first women who made their debut – ‘Because of her, We can!.’

We are proud of our present students who graduated at Debutante Dreaming and wish them a bright future.

Snow Report

Our winter at Worawa has been very cool in temperature this term. As a special whole school excursion our Year 7-10 students were taken to Lake Mountain Ski Resort to experience snow and snow play activities on the 8th August. Lake Mountain is our closest Ski Resort to Worawa and involves a drive through the windy roads that surround our beautiful Yarra Valley.

Each Student was provided with warm ski clothing for the day out. Boots, Trousers, Jackets, Gloves and Beanies to keep them warm and a toboggan to help them get from the top of the hill to the bottom. It was a wonderful day, the snow had fallen the night before leaving the girls with a magical winter wonderland to play in. We created artistic and fashionable snow sculptures, experienced the physics behind the snowball throw and motion of a slide down the hill.

For most of our new students, it was their first snow experience and the whole day was made enjoyable with the cooperation of staff and students. We had a brief snowfall while we were there and the day was a wonderful opportunity for staff and students to connect with each other in a stunning environment.

Fabric Design

A selected group of students were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon under the tutelage of two textile artists from Fitzroy Crossing. Powerful Gooniyandi women, Helen and Cherry enthralled the girls with stories from the community and spoke passionately about girls staying strong in their language and culture.

They demonstrated a range of textile patterns influenced by Japanese Shibori techniques, and created pots of dye using puff mushroom, eucalyptus and snappy gum bark. They also walked students through the processes of using traditional bush medicine ingredients to make soap.

EALD Literacy Group 1

Literacy 1 have been learning about writing biographies. We studied a focus text on Eddie Koiki Mabo and learned about the features that make a strong biographical text.

We then researched Auntie Lois’ life using secondary sources found online, and primary sources: namely an interview with the role model herself! Students collected information that fit under the headings of ‘Early Life’, ‘Education’, ‘Adult Life’, ‘Turning Point’ and ‘Major Achievements’ and used this structure to create an extended piece of writing. This has been a fantastic achievement for students who previously doubted their ability to write in full paragraphs. Some students completed this task and then used the opportunity to reflect on their own education, writing a paragraph about ‘both ways’ of education in their lives: knowledge gained from family, community and culture; and the knowledge gained in western education settings.

The students have all done themselves proud in articulating their learning in multiple intellectual traditions.

Health at Worawa

This term the girls were all seen by Optometrists and several girls are now wearing glasses to support their reading. Hearing tests were also carried out and some students further reviewed by a Ear Nose and Throat specialist.

All students were seen and treated by the Dentist, either through the dental van or specialist Orthodontic Services. Immunisation Services visited to school to make sure every girl’s immunisation was up to date and also giving flu injections. There were very few chest or head colds and no influenza. The girls are given supplements including Vitamin C, Zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D. Dr Barbara Hoare visited and treated students and made referrals where required. Luckily there were not any significant sport injuries.

The girls level of fitness, diet, good sleep patterns and training meant that the students were able to play several sports and maintain their stamina. Their height and weight is recorded as they frequently ask if they have grown since last term.

They are keenly interested in their own health and wellbeing and beginning to see the benefits of good diet, training and a good night’s sleep.

Worawa Economy

This term the students had the exciting opportunity to create their own mini-economy; the Worawa Economy. This program teaches and establishes an understanding of financial literacy and responsibility. It started with a competition to design the Worawa Money to be used throughout the program which was won by the simple yet creative designs of Jemma Matthew. The students then applied for jobs which were completed during Maths, STEAM and Homework Club. The jobs include Banker, the Technology Supervisor and Messenger. Some students have enthusiastically taken up the challenge and revelled in the added responsibility in the classroom. In addition to receiving their monthly salary for their job, the students earned money by displaying the four Worawa ways of Relationship, Responsibility, Respect and Rigour. Through receiving a salary and paying expenses (such as rent, bills and fines) before the monthly auction, the students are learning integral budgeting and life skills. The term ended with a boisterous celebration as the auctioneers did an amazing job selling the prizes to their fellow students. The Worawa Economy will continue throughout the year preparing the students for different financial situations they may face in the future.

Celebrating Culture

We celebrated Culture on our beautiful Dreaming Trail at the end of August. The event was an opportunity to celebrate culture through the arts, textile crafts, dance, food and sharing knowledge. During the morning the girls divided into groups to prepare foods, create art pieces and experiment with natural dyes. A roving team of student photographers and journalists captured the day along with a professional photographer. Our afternoon focus shifted to the Central Desert Region, with many of the students feeling pride in being able to share the stunning landscapes and community culture from the region. With all of us feeling well fed on spectacular chilli crab, mussels, kangaroo stew and tails, damper, rice and potatoes we then sat and watched the traditional dance team who shared their traditional dances with us. We would like to express a special thanks to them. As we head into the changing seasons and the warmer weather arrives we remember the Aboriginal terms for this new season, Poorneit (tadpole season) and Buath Celebrating and sharing Culture is at the core of Worawa College. We are proud of who we are.


Whether it has been designing houses and furniture and then making 3-dimensional models or finding out more about the right to safety in the workplace, the VCAL ladies have continued to kick goals this term. The biggest challenge, however, has been learning to become self-motivated and self-directed learners.

Learning through teacher direction is a way of learning that most students have perfected by year 10. In preparation for the workforce, further study and independent living students have been challenged to begin the process of learning how to work with greater independence.

This has included time management, peer negotiation and the presentation of ideas, opinions and arguments to one another and to decision makers.

VCAL students have faced some significant time management challenges this term with work placement, study, debutante and other events preparation, commitments; and they have continued to develop the skills and face the challenges involved in being formal and informal student leaders at Worawa. They are learning the personal development skills to ensure they are resilient in the face of all challenges they may face now and in the future. This term students have also made more firm commitments to study for 2019 with term 4 seeing concrete future plans being put in place.

This includes the development of networking skills, course enquiries and practising scholarship applications. Students have continued to study for their driver learner permits in their respective States.

We are looking forward to term 4!

Deadly Sisters of Worawa

Indigenous Literacy Day 2018 was a day to remember for Worawa’s very own newly published authors. Earlier this year, 13 girls spent a week of workshops with Dr Anita Heiss and Shelley Ware, producing and editing a range of original pieces of writing, along with their own artworks, to be composed into a glossy, beautiful book.

Deadly Sisters of Worawa will be shared with remote communities and schools, along with the girls’ families and friends, public libraries and the many supporters of the College. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the Epic Good Foundation and the Hawthorn Football Club Foundation made the publication and launch of the book possible at Federation Square, right in the heart of Melbourne, in front of more than 300 people.

Anita and Shelley introduced each of the authors individually and sang the praises of the students including the special traits that helped produce a remarkable book. Cheyenne Hayes and Jessica Byford, two of the student authors, read from their newly launched book. Cheyenne spoke passionately about her dream of finishing school at Worawa, having a career, and becoming a politician in Australia. She spoke about her environmental concerns for the land and how she wants to be a voice of change for Mother Nature. Jessica read from their book and told the audience, “Speak up, you’re not alone, we are all students calling Australia our home.”

Our incredibly talented students soon became the centre of much praise and attention, signing many copies of the book and having their photographs taken by excited new fans, children and adults alike. The girls are looking forward to being able to take their very own copies of their book home soon.

Unique Experience in Steam

This term we were incredibly lucky to have 3 ladies from Fitzroy Crossing Marnin Studio visit Worawa to conduct a natural dye workshop with students from the Textiles elective. Indiana Brown wrote about the experience.

‘The ladies from Fitzroy Crossing Marnin Studio came to school and taught us different ways to dye fabric and how to make different patterns on the fabric. They used bush herbs to create the different dye colours and patterns. We used eucalyptus leaves (bilindi) to make the fabric a grey colour, puff mushrooms (langa) to make it yellow, and sappy gum (dalngadi) to make the fabric orange. We also got to make homemade soap, also made from bush herbs. They said that this type of soap is really good for clearing pimples and acne.

The girls really enjoyed cutting up the gel and stirring up the soap mixture it was really fun. The ladies from Fitzroy Crossing are really talented and have really creative minds to have come up with these spectacular patterns and colours. I mostly enjoyed making the patterns, dying the fabric, and unwrapping the finished dyed fabric and looking at all of the beautiful patterns and colours.’

Experiences like these provide students with an opportunity to learn from the knowledge of other communities as well as share skills they have been taught by their family. It also emphasises the important place traditional Aboriginal knowledge holds alongside the mainstream skills we are teaching in STEAM.


Worawa Aboriginal College had a very successful winter season in 2018 with 31 students playing in 4 teams. They played rain, hail or shine, mostly rain, under the expert coaching of Emily Treeby. All the girls enjoyed the sport and were keen to practice, and at the end of the season, under 13s were runners-up, after putting up a great fight and losing by only 2 points.

From their season’s work, students were selected to try out for representative teams for LYVNA and the following girls have been asked to take part: Milena, Dinga, Indiana, Shakeyisha, Shontay, Lizzie and Eucharia. As part of the program and maintaining their fitness and netball skills, they will also follow a good gym and nutrition program.

Sports Academy

This term the Sports Academy completed the Leadership Program run by Priscilla from Athletics Australia. The coaching program is aimed at giving students the ability to teach athletic skills to young children as well as building on their leadership and communication skills.

Every Wednesday the students would spend two lessons developing their abilities in different aspects of coaching and leadership. The lessons included communication, coaching styles, class management and program design. They students spent time at Yarra Ranges athletic track learning proper techniques for discus, shot put and long jump. The conclusion of the program involved the Sports Academy students running the grade 3 and the grade 4 physical education classes at Haileybury College in Keysborough. Together they developed a program that they delivered in two fifty minute classes. The students at Haileybury had a great time learning different games and they enjoyed having the Worawa students participating when they weren’t leading the game.

The skills they have learned during this program have increased their confidence and revealed some promising future coaches and leaders. The Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office of Indigenous Affairs are looking to take this program nationwide and it has been very exciting to be part of the pilot program.

The Glass Jar Art Competition

This term, a competition creating a design to be painted on glass jars has proved popular with the students. The girls were asked to sketch a design that best reflects their Aboriginal culture. The judging panel was pleasantly surprised by the number of beautiful entries and much deliberation took place in choosing the winner and the runners up. So difficult in fact that the judging panel selected two winners for the first place prize. We congratulate both Shakeyisha Mohoney and Paris Carpio for winning the competition. Rose Archie was runner up and Michelle Mosquito came in third place. The winners received prize money while the place holders received a gift bag filled with various goodies. Congratulations to all the girls who participated in this competition. The winning entries will be used for tea-light candles in the office.


RMIT Vice Chancellor Visits Worawa

Worawa has entered into an MOU with RMIT University. Until recently the College’s connection to RMIT has generally been around transactional services and the relationship each partnership has been brokered on, for example using student art in textile and fashion design.

Both organisations are looking to grow and nurture the relationship to a more substantial partnership. Worawa students have visited RMIT’s Ngarara Willim to explore pathways. Specific education and training skills for consideration include arts organisation management and operation skills, business, hospitality and management, textile and fashion. Worawa has a strong visual arts program and the College is seeking the opportunity for students to work with visual arts, arts management, and curatorial students to investigate and apply contemporary gallery trends and practices. Worawa has an interest in having RMIT School of Education students undertake placements at Worawa College as part of their internships on a more formal basis to develop knowledge of Aboriginal iconography and contribute to the development of cultural competency.

To seal the signing of a formal MOU, Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean recently visited the College accompanied by Emeritus Professor, Dr Martin Comte and Dep PVC, Ngarara Willim, Mark McMillan. The visit included walking The Dreaming Trail, a visit to classrooms, viewing art exhibited in our beautiful gallery and coffee served by student baristas.



Download Term 3 Newsletter 2018

Dr Anita Heiss Worawa’s Ambassador

Dr Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at writers’ festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Indigenous literature. She is a Lifetime Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita currently divides her time between writing, public speaking, MCing, managing the Epic Good Foundation and being a ‘creative disruptor’. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards and is a Board Member of the State Library of Queensland. She currently lives in Brisbane.

Anita’s latest book (as editor) is Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia published by Black Inc Books.

Worawa Term 2 Newsletter 2018

Whispers of the Land

In the lead up to NAIDOC Worawa had the opportunity to showcase the creative work being undertaken in our Learning Centres at a Fashion Runway at the Melbourne Museum, in the aptly named, ‘You Can’t Do That’ exhibition space. From possum skin cloak to couture design – narrative was always evident. Our collection titled, ‘Whispers of the Land’ came to life in bright acrylics on couture design and bush colour floating on silk creations.

Worawa is implementing a STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths). Our Aboriginal pedagogy is drawn from the living landscape and based on Aboriginal beliefs and values which encompasses respect for the land and links content to local land and place.

Worawa offers an elective where students have been learning natural dye techniques using plants and plant extracts utilising either found leaf matter or plant extracts from our land and elsewhere. Under the guidance of teachers with passion and expertise, students are producing sensational natural dye fabrics which are then designed and fashioned into garments.

Worawa has a vibrant Art Studio where students are producing high-quality work where they showcase their youth, uniqueness and their Culture. It is in this creative hub students have the opportunity to express their Aboriginal identity and connect to their country and Dreaming stories.

The artworks produced have many applications and have been applied to fabric for the creation of stunning garments which are offset by masks constructed from natural products. Students develop a sophisticated understanding of art and how it can be presented. From idea to the canvas, canvas to fabric or poster or internet campaign – the possibilities become endless for these artists of the future.

Recently our students excitedly prepared for showing the garments in a fashion parade and modelled with all the aplomb of seasoned professionals. The event was a resounding success. Worawa College’s aim to provide excellent opportunities for students who attend to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem, while being grounded in their Indigenous heritage was emphatically met. Another step in being ready to take their place to “Walk in Two Worlds” and to govern their own choices. We are justly proud of these projects and even more glowingly proud of the students who take part in them with such energy and prowess.

STEAM at Worawa

Our STEAM program has allowed students to express their innovation and creativity throughout Term 2 with a range of exciting projects focusing on wearables and electronics. Our industry partnerships have ensured that the girls were immersed in genuine workplace scenarios and experienced a merging of cutting edge and traditional technologies.

Students from the year 9/10 Kombadik class attended Yarra Ranges Tech School where they worked in design teams with Littlebits Electronics. The girls came up with a range of advanced wearable technologies to measure your heart rate, footsteps and body temperature, as well as a portable Bluetooth, enabled surround sound system. Kombadik will be attending Yarra Ranges Tech School again in Term 3 to use CAD software and 3D printers to create the wearable casings for their technologies.

Students in years 7 & 8 are experiencing the future of solar energy with CSIRO. The Cumbungi class kick started their project with an excursion to Melbourne Zoo to see the experimental lightweight and flexible solar film in action at a trial installation. The girls are working on creating a 2nd installation incorporating solar lighting on our very own Dreaming Trail.

Selected students braved a daily 3 hour round trip to attend RMIT for a 5-day screen printing workshop experiencing the entire design process from initial design, transfer to film, photo emulsion onto silk screens and printing on a range of products. Keep your eye out for a range of WORAWA canvas bags, tea towels and t-shirts in the future.

Students from the Fashion & Textiles elective wowed the crowd on the Whispers of the Land runway in the You Can’t Do That exhibition space at Melbourne Museum as they displayed their garments produced using natural dye processes.

The girls topped off their busy STEAM timetable with their ongoing work on the Worawa Seasonal Calendar. Girls in years 9 & 10 participated in a fascinating conversation with Dr Sue Barrell, Chief Scientist with the BOM, learning more about how the weather is monitored and predicted. Year 7 & 8 continued to analyse and visualise data, focusing on rainfall. We look forward to inputting our data and beta testing our new interactive Seasonal Calendar website with software engineering students from Melbourne University.

We are set for more STEAM excitement, learning and collaboration in Term 3.

Literacy – Words at Work

This term there has been a lot of activity and progress as students have planned and practised how to speak confidently in front of an audience, presenting ideas, opinions or information. In Assembly, we have seen a wonderful film made and narrated by the girls, which demonstrated and explained all the complicated and important steps (procedures) they followed to use natural products and objects to dye silk.

This produced beautiful fabrics for fashion garments. The film-makers made sure that the communication was clear by using close-ups and subtitles as well. Another class accepted a big challenge and wrote and recorded their own voice-overs to tell new stories of different animated videos. The whole school enjoyed seeing the first completed narrative animation on the big screen.

It can be very nerve-wracking to talk in front of all your fellow students and the teachers, but some students have started to take up the challenge, with a highlight being a thought-provoking and expressively presented speech on the important topic of January 26. Some of our keenest readers had a visit from two of the Librarians from Eastern Library, who showed us all the exciting resources we will be able to access next term.

Rangers Program

As we entered the Waring season (Wurundjeri season name for the Early and Deep Winter) our Ranger Team commenced their first round of placements at Healesville Sanctuary. Three of the four students were new to the program this term. Each student attends the sanctuary for half a day with a 7 am start every fortnight.

Cold temperatures and shorter day lengths make this challenging at this time of year, but the opportunity to work 1 to 1 with a qualified Animal Keeper is the motivation our Rangers need. Each of the girls has made some wonderful connections with both the animals and the Keepers at the Sanctuary and they are keen to return again in term three.

Our other Ranger project this term has included exploring climatic zones around Australia and investigating the plant, animal and insect life found in those zones. We have also explored the concepts of animal enrichment for captive animals, our unique monotremes (egg-laying mammals), our weather station and seasonal changes for growing plants and our bees. Our honey harvest will mean that the girls will have our first Worawa honey on their toast and cereal in Term 3.

Reconciliation Sports Carnival

All in attendance at the Reconciliation Sports Carnival, on the 22nd of May, barely noticed the rain falling steadily throughout the day. The spirit of the day would not be dampened, to what would be one of Worawa’s biggest carnivals yet.

With thirteen schools participating in the netball round robin and four in the football tournament, there was plenty of sporting action to keep everyone entertained. After three outstanding football matches, MLC defeated Worawa in the grand final, taking out the Louisa Briggs Shield for the second year in a row. Best on Ground went to Georgia Frasier, from MLC, and Worawa’s own, Paris Carpio, was awarded the Team Spirit Award. The competitiveness of the netball tournament was evident, despite the dampness of the courts, with players relying on their passing skills and teamwork. MLMC defeated Shelford to take away the Naomi Atkinson Perpetual Trophy. Eucharia Tipiloura, from Worawa, was awarded the Encouragement Award.

The students, from the four primary schools in attendance, were entertained with the many activities to choose from including; The Longest Kick and a Basketball Shooting competition, Traditional Indigenous games run by SportsReady, Athletics activities run by Athletics Australia, mini-football activities conducted by AFL Yarra Ranges and face-painting by the Worawa girls. Guests were entertained with live music from Ruckus and DJ Congo, who kept the students dancing throughout the day.

We were thrilled to have Caitlin Thwaites, superstar netballer from Collingwood Magpies as our special guest. Thanks to Sarah Perkins, the VFLW/AFLW player from the Hawthorn Football Club, SEDA and AFL Umpiring for being on hand to assist with the netball and football umpiring.

Umpire Training

Each Tuesday, for a period of seven weeks, nine Worawa students attended the AFL Umpiring Diversity Academy Program at Worawa Aboriginal College. Joshua James, a leading community umpire from Geelong who occupies the role of Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer with Victoria Police, coached the students in all aspects of AFL umpiring. Josh was assisted by Bob Allen, the Yarra Ranges Goal Umpires’ Coach and Jessie Mulholland, the Eastern Region Female Competitions & Talent Coordinator.

The sessions were split between classroom study and practical on-field umpiring. After the initial seven weeks training, eight girls were picked to umpire the half-time AusKick games at the Sir Doug Nicholls round – “Dreamtime at the G” (Saturday 2 June). This was an exciting conclusion to the program and greatly enjoyed by all the girls who participated. The course also qualifies those students who completed all seven sessions, to umpire junior level matches and contribute units of accreditation towards their future VCAL completion. The success of this program, over the last four years, will continue next year and potentially, will provide pathways into careers in the AFL for students at Worawa.


Worawa has three netball teams playing in the winter season for the Lilydale and Yarra Valley Netball Association at Pinks Reserve each Saturday. The Under 13s team have only lost two games this season and are sitting second on the ladder. They won an action-packed game against the top team by two points earlier in the season. The Under 15s team and the Open team have enjoyed some great wins as well and each week there is an improvement in skills, knowledge of the rules and working together as a team. We look forward with great anticipation to continuing the winter season in Term 3 and watching the girls enjoying their netball.

Worawa Lady Eaglehawks

The College gets numerous complimentary emails about our students from all sporting codes where Worawa has teams registered. It is heart-warming to receive comments as the recent email about the Worawa Lady Eaglehawks by Glenn Stephenson, Coach of the Upwey/Tecoma JFC U16’s. Glen states, “I just want to say what an amazing day it’s been. We loved hosting the Worawa U16’s today at our home ground; your brand of footy was fast and skilful and showed heaps of promise. We hope you all felt welcome at our club; we certainly enjoyed having you. Thanks to Siobhan, your amazing coach; she did an awesome job with her players and staff on the day. We really look forward to the next time we meet; we wish you all the best”.

Worawa has an association with the Hawthorn Football Club Next Generation Academy and we look forward to some exciting developments in the coming months. Commencing in Term 3 we will conduct a six week AFL Nutrition, Health and Fitness Program with VFLW/AFLW player Sarah Perkins.


Worawa has four basketball teams registered with the Kilsyth Basketball Association.

Two U14s, one U16s and one U18s team. Eagles, Hawks Kookaburras and Crows are all playing well this year. We are pleased to have students Paris and Kaitlin help with coaching the Hawks team who are second on the ladder.

The girls are continually improving as a team and we hope to see them in the finals again.

AFL Umpire Uniforms Designed by Worawa Students

Our College enjoyed a whole school excursion to the Kilsyth Basketball Stadium to cheer on two of our three basketball teams, the Kookaburras and the Eagles, who made it to the grand final of the Kilsyth Basketball Association. Despite a stirling effort and the loudest cheer squad ever, neither team took home the pennant, but lots of resolve to try harder next season.

Our Lady Eaglehawks football teams will take to the footy ground next term and girls will undergo a Basic Umpire Training certificate course conducted by AFL Victoria.

Many students play in one of the three College netball teams. Some girls play football, basketball and netball!.

Our school is preparing for our annual Reconciliation Sports Carnival which will be held on Tuesday 22 May.

Kicking Work Placement Goals

Victorian Certificate in Applied Learning (VCAL) – Years 10, 11 and 12

This term VCAL students have been heading out of school to experience the world of work. This has included tours and talks as well as individual work placements within the Healesville community and beyond.

Two outstanding young women in the VCAL program have secured traineeships with Victoria Police in their Lilydale and Mooroolbark offices as part of the VCAL work placement program. These girls are also completing their Certificate III in Business as part of their traineeships.

The Healesville RACV Resort was another local organisation that participated in this program. The resort manager and departmental managers hosted a day of talks, tours of their departments and lunch for Worawa girls.

They also offered 2 students work placement one day a week in the gym and reception areas of the resort. The feedback about these young women was that they were excellent at their jobs and the resort would like to continue their commitment to both girls’ workplace experiences.

Other VCAL students attended work placement every Wednesday of the term at Badger Creek Primary School as well as Eastern Community Legal Centre.

We are proud of the achievements of our VCAL students and the support they have gained from a range of employers. They have gained this support because of their commitment to being responsible, reliable, hard-working and fostering positive working relationships.

Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service

All students and teaching staff attended the annual Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service held on Wednesday 31st May. This is a tradition that has been happening at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne since 2007.

Worawa students performed as part of the service. Guests were welcomed by Aunty Dot Peters, a respected Elder of the Healesville community with family connections to Coranderrk. Aunty Dot was instrumental in establishing the Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service assisted by Sam Halim the then President of the Healesville RSL. Guests honoured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who served in our armed services.

Ministers, representatives and former soldiers reflected upon the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers provided during the war campaigns of the past and those currently serving. The service acknowledged the courage and bravery of those that have served, brought the community together and allowed the sharing of personal connections to those that have served to create Australia as we know it today. At the conclusion student representatives joined others in laying a wreath at the cenotaph.

EALD at Worawa

This term has been an exciting one in terms of student learning, with the introduction of Personalised Learning Plans for every student. Each student has had a term goal for Speaking & Listening, Reading, Writing and Numeracy. Students have worked hard to focus their learning and practice the skills identified, and we have celebrated many achieved goals throughout the term.

All Literacy teachers participated in an Introduction to Scaffolded Literacy module as part of a participatory action research project. This training helped teachers to identify specific EALD literacy pedagogies that we can implement. Teachers enjoyed many rigorous conversations that tied these learnings back to Respect, Rigour, Relationship and Responsibility.

The EALD program has benefited greatly from our integration aides Grace and Vicki this term. Grace has implemented the Multilit program for reading support, and students are making exciting progress with this one on one attention and assistance.



We are pleased to introduce the newest member of the Worawa community; ‘Molly’. Molly is a Golden Retriever trained as a Therapy Dog. Molly underwent a six-day training course with Lead the Way Institute which focused on training in command obedience to sit, drop, heel, recall, step away and free. Molly also learnt manners that really matter, such as “no jumping’, “no barging out of doors” and “no mouthing”.

Molly, along with Houseparent Rosalina Rizk and Pastoral Care Worker Nancy Silvestroni attended the Lead the Way Institute to undertake training to become a Facility Therapy Dog. Molly underwent training in obedience such as sit, drop, heel, recall, step away and free. Molly also learnt manners that really matter, such as “no jumping’, “no barging “out of doors” and “no mouthing”.

Molly had not attended training prior to Lead the way, so initially, she was very anxious, jumpy and stubborn and would not listen to Rosalina and Nancy. She eventually accepted the training and became a working dog. Molly’s last day of training included an assessment where Molly was graded on her ability to be patted and interact with children and their parents from a karate class and elderly people in a nursing home.

Molly passed with flying colours although she still needs a bit of work on boundaries which staff and students will be involved in her training, next term. Molly had a great week training and learning to be guided by her handlers, Rosalina and Nancy. All have returned with a positive outlook for Molly’s future at Worawa Aboriginal College.

The girls love having Molly as part of the College community and we have welcomed her into the Worawa family. She is still learning The Worawa Way.

Pathways to Womanhood Program

The Pathways to Womanhood (PTW) program is a capability and leadership development program. Students enter into the co-curricular program through interview and their own personal application. PTW highlights learning opportunities and personal goals. The program also provides social, emotional and real-life opportunities for the candidate to mature, self-evaluate and experience a range of cultural experiences. The program culminates in a Debutante Ball; ‘Debutante Dreaming.’

This is not the usual mainstream event, rather it is a space for the expression of Aboriginal Leadership, Mature Adulthood Commencement and Personal Pride. Twelve girls will make their debut at Debutante Dreaming to be held 8 September at Pullman on the Park.

Worawa Walk

The Worawa Walk is an initiative to encourage health and fitness at Worawa. To encourage students to get more activity in their daily life they will be given the challenge of walking from Melbourne to a designated destination in Australia (this year we chose Darwin). To get there the students will walk supervised laps of the oval at designated times during the day. Each lap will equal a determined number of kilometres. As they earn their kilometres they will move along the chosen trail to get to the final destination.

Students who reach the final destination will be given the special Worawa Walk t-shirt. The t-shirt is designed by the winner of the t-shirt design competition held prior to the competition.

There will be an opportunity for students to earn prizes when they reach certain towns on their way to the final destination to encourage students to stay the course. For example, when they reach Ararat they will receive a drink bottle. As an incentive for students to achieve the destination in a timely manner, there will be a prize for the first, second and third place.


  • Melbourne to Darwin is 3,760 kilometres.
  • Each lap is worth 20 km.
  • This total requires students to walk (or run if they choose) 188 laps of the oval. (approx.75km in total).
  • There are 10 weeks in Term 3 for students to achieve the destination.
  • Students would have to walk around 19 laps a week (3-4 laps a day) to get there before the end of term (this equals 7.5km of extra exercise a week).

Sports & Fitness

This past term has been an exciting time for the girls to develop their personal fitness and progress in their favourite sports. The school gym is open daily and the girls are showing inspiring self-motivation and will to get up before school starts and fit in a workout. The gym offers fun and supportive personal training specific to the needs of the girls in recovery, sports and strength conditioning, injury prevention and cardiovascular endurance.

The girls are showing resilience in their sports, with some girls playing all sports offered and sometimes more than one game on the day. They’re showing leadership and sportsmanship, with most of our competition expressing pride in the courtesy of the girls shown to their opponents and each other. We’re looking forward to welcoming our new girls next term into our school and into our sports and well-being program.

Health & Wellbeing

The focus on this semester has been obtaining and maintaining maximum health and fitness. This has been achieved through understanding how a growing teenage body works, how to manage wellness through a holistic approach to nutrition, sleep, exercise and fitness, forming respectful relationships, and developing resilience. The students are able to look at healthy ears and eyes and learn the anatomy and physiology and human movement to support their own health and encourage each other to achieve their health and fitness goals.

The students have enjoyed good health over the semester, enjoyed a variety of sports and excursions to enhance their wellness. Dr Barb our rural General Practitioner, along with dental support, physiotherapy, podiatry, immunisation nurses, councillors, fitness instructor, optometrist, hearing specialists, have all contributed to the students’ well-being.


Download Term 2 Newsletter 2018

Debutante Dreaming 2018


debutante dreaming 2018 Worawa Remembers 69 Years On… Worawa celebrates and honours the participants of the first Aboriginal Debutante Ball held in 1949.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

6.30pm to 11.00pm

Pullman on the Park,
192 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

Formal Black and White Ball

$125 per person
Or a table of 10 for $1,250
Drinks at bar prices.

Friday, 24 August 2018

For information contact Nicki on 03 5962 4344 or email admin@worawa.vic.edu.au.

Worawa Term 1 Newsletter 2018

VCAL Year 11 & 12

Kicking off the new VCAL program at Worawa has been exciting! Students have embraced the Worawa VCAL model of learning. This is based on three important themes: Self, Community and Work. It also encourages self-esteem, confidence and the 4 Worawa Rs: Respect, Responsibility, Relationships and Rigour.

Students’ first major project this term was entitled ‘Finding My Voice.’ We have studied 2 pivotal events in Aboriginal history; the Freedom Riders and Charles Perkins as well as Vincent Lingiari and the Wave Hill ‘walk off.’ This project has culminated in students contacting local government about the renaming of Picanniny Creek in Healesville. Students are learning to find their own voices on issues that matter to them and their home communities. They are learning to consult with Elders and decision-makers in the community.

The term has also been spent organising structured workplace learning for all students based on their career interests and getting them out into workplaces so they understand workplace protocols. There are a number of work experiences and events organised for 2018 to provide this real-life learning to students. To support the transition to independent adult living in the future, next term students are participating in a week of driving lessons with the opportunity to gain their Learner Permit. Throughout 2018 students will also work towards achieving their Certificate II in Business as well as gain a number of useful hospitality skills. They will use these skills to run a microbusiness or microenterprise at school.

Worawa has strong business and community partnerships to support students now and in the future. This term VCAL students have been to Koori Court at Melbourne’s County Court, as well as RMIT, a university based in Melbourne with a global reputation for excellence and a wonderful Aboriginal support unit. Students have worked with Melbourne University to understand more about careers in science and archaeology and at school have begun a Big Sister program aimed at teaching them conflict management and resilience skills so that they can support younger students in the school community.

Every Monday the VCAL girls work with Barkinji Warrior and Jui Jitsu champion, Shantelle Thompson, to learn self-defence and fitness skills. Some students have also had the opportunity to work with the esteemed author Anita Heiss this term to produce a book of writing that will be launched in September. It has been an amazing term with great things to come!

Culture Day Term 1

Each term the College holds a Culture Day which is entirely organised by the student body. It is a day of cultural celebration with bush tucker, dance and song. The girls plan the program and cook and serve the food.

Indigenous Literacy Project – Writing Workshop

A group of very privileged Worawa students spent five days creating their own stories, guided by Dr Anita Heiss and Shelley Ware from the Indigenous Literacy Project. This project works across Australia, particularly with regional and remote communities, to encourage young Indigenous people to share their stories, to read and write. The Project provides books to communities and runs workshops for student writers. The stories and art produced are published in beautiful books which are distributed throughout the country.

Anita Heiss, of the Wiradjuri nation, is an author, poet and presenter. She has written over 20 books, many of which have won major awards. She writes in every style, fiction and non-fiction. Anita is very proud to help teach young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls to write and describe the world we live in and the experiences we have had. Shelley Ware is a presenter on the NITV-SBS football program Marngrook, and a speaker at many important events, especially encouraging opportunities and confidence for young indigenous women. She is also a primary school teacher in Melbourne. Her people are from South Australia and Western Australia.

Over the week, we wrote four or five pieces of writing each and selected personal photos and artworks – BUT not just to keep for ourselves. A book, which we have named Deadly Sisters, will be launched on September 5, at Federation Square, right in the centre of Melbourne. Each of us has four pages in the book, which will have our stories and our pictures. We will each be given 10 copies of the book to keep and share with family and friends, and the school will receive many copies. But that’s not all – copies of our book will go out to communities all over Australia for the children to read and enjoy, and to inspire them to tell their stories too.

We want to keep all our stories as a surprise for you until the book is published, but we can tell you that we wrote about many, many different things – including friendship, the Dreaming Trail, fantasy, family. We used all five senses to inspire our ideas and used our emotions when we were talking and writing about our personal sacred places. Sometimes it was hard to get ideas started and to believe in ourselves, but we did it and in a few months’ time we will be genuine published authors, with our stories being read by literally hundreds of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and boys. We are the Deadly Sisters!


The textile class has begun by learning about the two major types of fibres, protein (animal) fibres and cellulose (plant) fibres. We have learned about how we need to prepare fabric for dyeing and using mordants to make colour ‘bite’ the fabric. We have prepared a range of fabrics and fibres by pre-mordanting in alum, copper and iron. We have made these mordants ourselves by leaving metal scraps in vinegar to develop.We have begun dyeing various fabrics in indigo, native cherry, eucalyptus nicholi, and Californian logwood.


During Term 1 students have expanded their scientific understanding through an updated curriculum which encompasses all areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as firmly placing Aboriginal knowledge within the scientific field through an in-depth study of the Seasonal Calendars produced by Aboriginal communities and Elders in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. The students at Worawa are taking on the role of scientist as they conduct research, fieldwork and test out different technologies to create their own Seasonal Calendar for Worawa! In Term 2 we will delve even further into the current and cutting-edge industry as students participate in a solar panel research project with the CSIRO, develop a website and phone app with staff and students from Melbourne University and design the casing for personal electronic devices using 3D printing technology. We feel it is important to provide our students with the skills and knowledge to engage with the industries and careers of the future and aim to do this through the hands-on experiences provided in our STEM program.


In literacy class, students have been examining the features of both narratives and persuasive texts. Students studied Oliver Twist and discussed the Orientation, Complication and Resolution of a narrative.

Students are now studying a persuasive letter written by Oliver to the head of the board, appealing for better food, better sleeping conditions and the opportunity to receive an education. They are learning about building an argument and expressing an opinion.

In addition, students have been learning a range of new words to express feelings, a favourite of these was describing the angry behaviour as ‘going postal’. We have begun now to study a list of new words to describe our strengths, such as ‘intelligent’, ‘conscientious’, and ‘reliable’.

This list will continue to expand as we discover more of our strengths!

Visual Art

Worawa enjoys a strong tradition of high quality, skilful and beautiful Visual Art. Our experienced Art Teacher who has had international and national exhibitions highlighting talented student work is a mark of this success. He ensures that process, technique and medium are presented and researched by the students, so they have the tools to develop as unique artists while honouring tradition.

Using short exercises students develop skills and competencies. Our students bring with them a range of traditions and particular styles of Art. These are encouraged and incorporated into the program while experimentation and development are equally valued. This term the students have worked with pattern and repeating of the theme to create art. This was a three process technique that has delivered interesting and complex artworks. Visual Art at Worawa is both unique and best practice. We are justly proud of our student’s creations.

In dance this term we have been very fortunate to have the Footsteps Company with us again. In this class, we use a variety of exercises and movements that most girls conquer with some effort. This term was about ‘tasting’ the modern dance classes so we programmed all students to have classes. Next term, Dance with being a part of the Creative Arts Elective.

Some of our girls shared dances they dance at home (where it was ‘right’ to do so). They also taught one another the ‘North Wind Dance’ Lungurrma. This lovely dance is a popular one amongst the girls and it is a dance that most can learn and enjoy. It has been wonderful to see the girls dancing together to that song. Next term there will be a time made for girls to share the traditional dance on a regular basis.

Aboriginal people have used theatre and theatrical methods to tell their stories for millennia. We start from that premise. This term we have learned all about mime and story-telling. We also learn about body language and how we are always communicating. The theatre is a time where young girls can have fun learning about different ways to communicate. Older students also learn to tell stories in many interesting ways. Once again, there is a focus on Indigenous ways and knowledge. Next term we will be performing stories and poems. More mature students have been learning about creating the story using mime technique. They were challenged to tell some of their own stories using mime alone. It was very challenging, but all girls managed to take part and were extremely proud of their results.

Theatre/Drama Education is a huge opportunity to express concerns and stories. It is a time in high school where students learn about their own worth and the worth of their stories.

We are looking forward to bringing these stories to life next term.

Homework Club

From the start of 2018, a ‘Homework Support Group’ has been running during the last period of the day, on both Monday and Thursday. The work reflects what is being done in class, where the homework group, supports students to master Literacy and Numeracy skills by allowing more practice and one on one or small group support.

Along with our regular classroom teachers, six volunteers assist the students in Literacy and Numeracy. Students have reported that they have enjoyed more ‘intense’ support, particularly interacting with the volunteers.

Students also appreciated being able to read one on one and to other students and the wide variety of activities. Many mentioned that they had learned Mathematics through playing games and they were practising talking together and learning to problem solve at their own pace.

The Creative Arts at Worawa

The Arts at Worawa frequently take centre stage. As a College who believes Culture should be central to everything we do, we understand that for Aboriginal people the Arts are more important than a mere subject. Singing, dancing, miming, painting, drawing – all of the arts are integral to our traditional way of life. Now, in 2018 the Arts remain important in our expression of who we are and where we are going. At School this term there have been some new artists demonstrating that they are the up and coming great artists of our time.


Our College enjoyed a whole school excursion to the Kilsyth Basketball Stadium to cheer on two of our three basketball teams, the Kookaburras and the Eagles, who made it to the grand final of the Kilsyth Basketball Association. Despite a stirling effort and the loudest cheer squad ever, neither team took home the pennant, but lots of resolve to try harder next season.

Our Lady Eaglehawks football teams will take to the footy ground next term and girls will undergo a Basic Umpire Training certificate course conducted by AFL Victoria.

Many students play in one of the three College netball teams. Some girls play football, basketball and netball!.

Our school is preparing for our annual Reconciliation Sports Carnival which will be held on Tuesday 22 May.

Download Term 1 Newsletter 2018