Worawa Term 2 Newsletter 2021

Sports at Worawa

We are proud to announce a new partnership with RHSports, experts in sports equipment and clothing. We look forward to working with the RHSports team. The College’s sports program has an emphasis on individual participation in a diverse range of sports. Sports on offer include favourites of netball, basketball, football and softball. Whilst some girls participate in every sport offered, others have a preferred game of choice. Basketball is the game of choice for many of our students. During the term break the College installed a basketball court. We are looking forward to the return of students and the opening of our new basketball court set against the backdrop of a stunning landscape.

Giving Voice to Students

Giving voice to our students is all about relationships. At Worawa, we do this by empowering our students to be seen and heard. We encourage and expect students to think for themselves, their needs and communicate openly from this premise. Naturally, this takes commitment and courage not to shy away from opportunities and to accept responsibility to work together to make our boarding experiences enjoyable, empowering and most importantly, educational.

On one hand, students are managing their self-care responsibilities and on another hand, their growing self-awareness includes navigating their relationships with others and this involves speaking up. In boarding students occupy a space that is not home or their cultural community, and it is not teachers or school. It is a shared living space where we agree to our common right to feel safe and learn which can be fun through shared living experiences where ownership and leadership are important ingredients for success.

Giving voice through Respect Circle is about showing up; where we listen, learn and lead, in order to maintain healthy relationships. It presents a chance to have a say about not only what we do on the weekend but how we are as a community. Practising reflective skills to build healthy connections in their relationships with one another then helps to inform their shared experiences from a strength-based perspective.

House Meetings are opportunities to voice more specific feedback about how people are impacted by each other’s actions and to find shared solutions in a more intimate environment. Acknowledging differences allows the students to appreciate and respect each other’s cultural ways and work towards living more cooperatively. Through a strength-based approach, similarities are celebrated and greater understanding and cohesion is achieved. 

Through Restorative Practice, one of the more challenging meetings students and staff are expected to engage in, we work to move from ‘conflict to cooperation’ in a way that repairs harm and restores community. Having the courage to voice how we have experienced other people’s actions and stating what we want to see in order to feel safe and move on from harm is a powerful lifelong tool for healing and creating change. An important aspect of Restorative Practice is to support students to transition back into their relationships with a healthy sense of self intact.

In the boarding, community staff strive to be consistently approachable, empathic and seek to empower the students through listening to their voices. Students are able to come to staff to share their ideas and suggestions; staff will then work with students to navigate how they can achieve an outcome that benefits the community as a whole. This fosters a commitment to responsible communication where differences can be discussed and considered in healthy ways, free of shame and doubt. Ultimately, empowering structures are embedded into the boarding program to facilitate places of connection where students listen, learn and lead through their voice.

Multicultural Day

To achieve their outcomes for Personal Development Skills, as well as Literacy and Numeracy, the students of VCAL decided to run a Multicultural Day as the major activity for the term. They decided to hold it on May 21st, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a day organized by the United Nations that urges everyone to do their part to bridge the gap between cultures. The students planned to recognise this day by introducing four different cultures from around the world to the younger students of Worawa.

In groups of 2-3, they each spent the term learning about their chosen cultures, such as the traditions, the clothes they wear, what they eat and activities, hobbies and games they play for fun. Each group had to organise a thirty-minute session to present to younger students.

This task involved a lot of preparation and organisation. The VCAL students had to meet with Robin, the chef, and discuss traditional foods they would serve, they needed to organize the room set up with decorations, research and produce their informative PowerPoint presentation, organise and make traditional clothes and research and produce the materials for the traditional games and activities they would play. With help from the VCAL teachers, the students worked diligently to make this day memorable.

Miranda, Indiana, and Kyanna brought the festivity of the Mexican culture alive. Along with Desiree, who is from Mexico, the students decorated the room in bright festive colours, dressed in traditional ponchos and sombreros or Day of the Dead costumes and served up traditional foods such as Picadillo, three milk cakes and Mexican corn on the cob. They played traditional games and learned how to dance around the sombrero.

Sarah, Kylinda and Martika focused on the lesser-known Evenki culture. They turned the room into a wintery cold environment, building a traditional tent with fur lining the floors in the middle of the room. They wore fur coats and fur-lined boots. They taught the students about the traditions of the culture and Sarah told a traditional Indigenous tale that provoked a lot of screams! They served deer meat and traditional homemade ice cream. They also introduced a popular game of the Evenki and that was to lasso a wooden reindeer. They enjoyed this game with many students demonstrating great skills in the art of lassoing.

Ooen-s’tae and Shontay brought the springtime of the South Korean culture to life by decorating the room with blossom trees and pink, white and red lanterns and fans. With the help of Kat, who is from South Korea, her husband Han and friend Rima, they were able to capture this exquisite culture. They wore traditional Hanboks and served sushi, Hotteok pancakes, Bulgogi and bubble tea. They made origami to play a traditional game called Ddakji. They also taught the students traditional Korean words, which the students thoroughly enjoyed.

Mary and Margie turned the room into the lush tropical environment of Cambodia. They had plants and ferns all around the room with a Buddha statue and candles to create a serene atmosphere. They dressed in a traditional dress called a Sampot and after their informative presentation and serving of Beef Loc Lac and Phnom Penh, they had the students lie down, relax and meditate in Buddhist style. A very calming session!

The Multicultural Day was a success due to the efforts of the VCAL students. They allowed the students of Worawa to appreciate others’ traditions and ways of living by bringing these cultures to life. The younger students really enjoyed the day and were impressed by the organization and efforts that had gone into it.

A Taste of Cooking

In VCAL this term, the students investigated how mathematics is used in the kitchen. After a few messy mishaps, while making Microwave Mug Cakes, the students realised the importance of measurement in cooking. Some learnt to double-check the quantity needed for each ingredient so their recipes are edible. While others will now ensure that their cooking vessel is big enough so their cake isn’t wasted by exploding all over the microwave!

As part of the Multicultural Day event, the VCAL students selected traditional recipes from their chosen culture to cook. In preparation for the day, the students refined their multiplication and fractions skills by adjusting recipes from feeding a few people to 40 hungry teenagers. Their adjustments, portions and dishes were successful, though there were a few chopped carrots leftover for another meal.

Later in the term, the students discovered that the kitchen can also be used to create body care products. They were surprised to be able to use common household ingredients to produce a healthy lip scrub. The students practised their problem-solving skills when an error in estimation resulted in the vanilla running out. They calmly and resourcefully substituted other similar ingredients and then trialled their products. Brown grainy smiles filled the VCAL room as they excitedly discussed making it again to share with other students and family.

The VCAL students will continue their exploration of the kitchen next term to grow in confidence and prepare them for life after school.

Learning from the Land of the Past

This term witnessed a lively cohort of 7/8 students studying Humanities. The History focus was The Vikings which students embraced enthusiastically, no doubt keen to confirm or challenge the accuracy of recent Hollywood blockbusters and streaming service hits.

Students learnt that the Norsemen’s blood-soaked reputation was a reality; however, tempered by a keen sense of honour and a code of laws in their Scandinavian homeland. Students were particularly fascinated by ‘beserkers’ who had a fearsome reputation for merciless mayhem.

But The Vikings were not all about violence; they were well established farming communities, highly progressive in terms of rights for women, great storytellers, advanced seamen (the first Europeans to reach American shores), skilled craftsmen and the originators of the world’s oldest surviving Parliament which continues in Iceland.

The Geography focus of this term has been associated with water usage and abusage. Students are now able to recognize how precious resource water is, particularly in Australia – the world’s driest continent. Furthermore – there is still much to be learned from Aboriginal water management practices as opposed to the grossly unsustainable agricultural irrigation methods employed in the Murray Darling Basin which is sadly not an isolated example.

Kombadik and Baggup have been introduced to the dawn of the modern world, the rise of The Industrial Revolution and its social impacts – most pertinently the colonialization of Australia.

Industrialisation in Great Britain led to serious prison overcrowding and with the loss of American Colonies following the American War of Independence, new land for penal settlements was sought. Thus began the darkest chapter in our history. Students produced a series of excellent slide show presentations on inventions, the origins of which lay in the Industrial Revolution.

Geography studies have focused on changes in the environment and its management. It has been brought to student’s attention that aboriginal farming practices were entirely sustainable unlike the damage caused by more recent agricultural methods and systems.

Only now are we beginning to learn the significance of the failure to recognize and champion Aboriginal farming methods. Tragically, introduced species of plants and animals make it very difficult to exploit previously established and highly successful systems. Is it too late? Only time will tell.

Students have been encouraged to take pride in their ancestor’s approach to farming and to recognize the negative impact of more recent agricultural activity.

Experiencing the Work Force

Our VCAL Work Placement program is an essential part of the competency development for our senior students. To have them experience work in a real setting and have tasks set for them as a staff member and part of a team is a fabulous learning opportunity for the girls to gain a better understanding of the skills and requirements for a variety of positions and industries. To prepare for placement, students complete a rigorous application process that includes developing skills in resume and cover letter writing, exploring possible career pathways that will allow them to enter their ideal workplace, completing Work Health Safety assessments, an interview and a workplace induction.

While on placement students will be completing assessment tasks for Work-Related Skills and as part of that, they keep a Work Journal where they reflect on their day, remember key events and think about skills that they need to improve. At the end of Term Two, all but three in the VCAL class are ready to begin their first exploration into the workforce. Students have placements that are local to the school on either Wednesdays or Thursdays. Their placements will give them each the opportunity to develop employability skills, improve their confidence and their independence as young women in the workforce.

Our Work Placement students would like to thank Healesville Sanctuary, Eastern Community Legal Centre, Badger Creek Primary, The Big Bouquet and Healesville RACV Resort for giving them the opportunity to be supported in their introduction to the World of Work and continuing that support into Terms Three and Four.

A Term of Artistic Exploration

Term Two was another opportunity for students to explore new visual skills and techniques as well as exploring art concepts. Murnong and Cumbungi students began the term by using digital cameras to run through photographic angles, shots and framing. This resulted in a photographic interpretation of their name using found objects from around the room and in the garden.

The students then looked at the amazing work of the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists of Alice Springs and were inspired to create their own crazy bird sculptures. Baggup and Kombadik classes improved their ceramic skills to make coiled pots inspired by the storytelling style of the Hermannsburg Potters. VCAL students continued to work through the design process and were fortunate to have a visit from their clients, the Lake Lilydale Children’s Centre, who provided students with more detailed information and feedback on their initial design ideas. The staff at the Children’s centre are very excited to have Worawa students produce a new logo design for their uniforms and were eager to show respect for First Nations people in this area.

The biggest news for our subject is the finalization of the media centre within our art building. Students will now be able to explore digital media to create art and design works. Groups of students have already had the opportunity to use the Mac computers and are really excited to explore the possibilities of this technology.

Professional Development Our Way

Worawa Aboriginal College is a learning community. As such we value Two Way learning.

The Worawa approach to professional development is reflected in the Strategic Plan for 2021-2023. While the chief focus is on improving the outcomes for our students, emphasis is placed on identifying strategic directions and themes to support quality learning outcomes for students and staff within the Worawa Integrated Model. At Worawa we respect Aboriginal ways of Knowing, Doing and Being.

We begin each day by honouring the Aboriginal value system and associated kinship.

We pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians, the Spirit Ancestor and those who have walked the Land before us – we give an undertaking to Respect and Care for Country.

Our teaching is based on Aboriginal values and pedagogy.

In summary:

  • We connect through the stories we share
  • We picture our pathways of knowledge
  • We see, think, act, make and share without words
  • We keep and share knowledge with art and objects
  • We work with lessons from land and nature
  • We put different ideas together and create new knowledge
  • We work from wholes to parts, watching and then doing
  • We bring new knowledge home to help our mob

Cultural competency of staff is prioritised, requiring the capacity of individuals to work with Aboriginal people in a way that is sensitive to, and respectful of, Aboriginal cultural beliefs and practices. Professional development for all staff includes raising awareness of and sensitivity to the history, culture, contemporary lifestyle and enduring characteristics of our students. Along with professional learning to strengthen the delivery and understanding of Aboriginal pedagogy, values, community-led initiatives and self-determination.

Staff Appointments

Rosalea Cameron

Deputy Principal

Dr Rosalea Cameron joined Worawa in the newly created position of Deputy Principal at the commencement of Term 2, 2021.

The creation of this new role will focus on the academic needs of students and staff development at the College. As a highly experienced Principal, with extensive posts in the Northern Territory as a Teaching Principal and Principal Mentor, Dr Cameron steps into this important role with a deep understanding of the needs of this community. In addition to her educational leadership work in Australia, Dr Cameron has held leadership and teaching roles in Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Mozambique, and America.

Dr Cameron holds a range of targeted certificates in careers, training and assessment, as well as a Diploma of Primary Teaching, a Bachelor of Education, a Master of Education, and a Doctorate of Philosophy. She has undertaken a range of volunteer and NGO positions, sharing her passionate and rich knowledge of education training teachers and supporting students.

Vivienne Desmarchelier

Head of Boarding and Student Wellbeing

Vivienne Desmarchelier took up the leadership role of Head of Boarding and Student Wellbeing at the beginning of Term 1. Vivienne brings to the role extensive experience having previously worked in both Boarding and Wellbeing roles at a boarding school Darwin. Vivienne has demonstrated experience in establishing and supporting the transition of students from remote Aboriginal communities into the school boarding experience along with a passion for wellbeing. Vivienne is delighted to be in a position to work with the only Aboriginal school in Australia that caters specifically for Aboriginal girls.

David Hausler

Business Manager

David Hausler has recently accepted the role of Business Manager at Worawa, following an intensive recruitment process. David commences in this role on 28 June 2021 in a full-time capacity.

A highly experienced Finance Manager, David’s most recent role as the Head of Finance at Flinders Christian Community College where he has spent the last 8 years. David has over 20 years of experience in various Business Manager and Finance roles and also ran his own charity for 6 years.

David’s experience working in an Independent School provides a strong background for this role. He observes that he has a reputation for leading improvement focused teams to ensure the highly effective human, financial and infrastructure resourcing of schools for the benefit of students and the school community.

David holds a Bachelor in Business (Accounting) and is a member of the Institute of Public Accountants.

Wendy Shulz


Wendy is a local who recently returned from a position at Tiwi College. Wendy has taken on the position of Registrar during Term 2, and brings knowledge of working in an Aboriginal setting – she has been ‘adopted’ into a Tiwi family and has connections with some of our students.

Wendy has worked as a Personal Assistant, Houseparent and Lifestyle and Leisure Coordinator, most recently working as a Support Worker in the classroom for the last 3 years at Tiwi College.

Wendy holds a Diploma in Community Services and is currently completing a Certificate of Counselling.

Microbes – The Good and the Bad

Microbes have been thrust into the spotlight whether they like it or not! But what are they, and are they all bad? These questions and many more are what we explored in our Biological Sciences unit this term.

Students had the opportunity to enter this topic through a range of focuses – where do microbes sit in the Food Web, how do we Classify them and what do they have to do with Infectious Diseases? No scientific study is complete without a good experiment. For this students engaged in an in-depth exploration of bacteria growth and hypothesised which surfaces around the school carry the most varied bacterial colonies.

We swabbed door handles, classroom desks, sinks, windows, toilets and the bottom of our shoes! The winner with the most impressive agar plate was the lock on the toilet cubical door! Shakaila who selected this location theorised that it would have the most varied bacteria because everyone has to touch it after using the toilet and before washing their hands, but it is so small that we don’t think of cleaning it.

Our key Science word for 2021 has been Energy. In Physical Sciences we explored types of energy, transference and transformation. In Biological Sciences we explored energy as food. How it travels through the Food Web and the key role Microbes play in returning energy to the Earth.

Next term we look forward to discovering what role Energy plays in Chemical Sciences.

Strong Young Women – Growing Strong Young Women Through Student Agency

Worawa Aboriginal College has a commitment to growing strong young women through student agency. Students learn through activities that are meaningful and relevant. They are given a voice and often a choice, in how they learn.

Responsibility and ownership are the pillars of agency and staff work with students to create contexts where these pillars are built and strengthened. In the classroom, learning is differentiated according to the stage of learning and optimal learning process for each student. Teachers invite input from students and negotiate ways learning can be reflected. Students take responsibility to complete tasks thoroughly and within agreed time frames. Teachers offer feedback and invite further development of some tasks.

In the context of sport, students choose the game in which they will compete and they are supported to consistently engage in training to be match-ready. Students manage their uniforms, take responsibility for changing on time, and self-regulate so that there is healthy team collaboration. For this to be successful, students are invited to accept feedback so that skills are refined and attitude is team-oriented.

Teachers and House Parents are active partners with students in nurturing student agency. In both Boarding and School contexts, there is structure, routine and consistency. There is encouragement, challenge and feedback.

Graduating from the Pathways to Womanhood program, successfully completing chosen work experience opportunities, fairly and robustly training and competing in community-based team sports fixtures are just a few examples that showcase the Worawa student agency. We celebrate stages of maturity and aspire to self-determination for each Worawa graduate.

Download Term 2 Newsletter 2021