Darebin Schools NAIDOC Yarning Conference 2023

On 10 October 2023, students from 20 Darebin schools attended the conference for a cultural immersion experience.

Building a community where diversity is embraced, and racism and exclusion is shunned - as they should be - demands an educational environment in which understanding and appreciation of different lifestyles and cultures is encouraged.

That is something to which Darebin Community Development Officer Jackie Mansourian has devoted herself for the past six years with the annual Darebin Schools’ NAIDOC Yarning Conference.

This year, on 10 October, more than 450 Grade Five students from 20 schools across Darebin attended the conference for a cultural immersion experience that has built on the learnings and successes of the five previous conferences.

For many of the students it was a culmination of months of pre-conference learnings developed by a committed cohort of teachers from across the schools in collaboration with Darebin City Council staff members.

For the second successive year, the conference was held at the City of Darebin’s Bundoora Park where, following a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson, the students embarked upon a series of cultural activities.

Among these were sessions devoted to caring for Country with Rangers from the Wurundjeri Land Council, the decolonisation of the Bundoora Park Precinct and, popular every year, traditional Aboriginal games with the team from Clothing the Gap.

For one particular group, the highlight was a cultural walk and talk with Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson.

A man who devotes his life to sharing the culture of his People with as many others as possible, Uncle Bill gave his cohort of students insights into Wurundjeri traditional bush foods, life and even the making of canoes.

Councillor Susan Rennie, speaking to the students on behalf of the Darebin Mayor Councillor Julie Williams, summed up succinctly the ultimate goal of the Darebin Schools’ NAIDOC Yarning Conference:

“What you do matters. I ask that you take today’s learnings and use your voice to ask your Principal, teachers and families to take action in recognising and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.”

Take a look at some beautiful photos from the day by photographer Jacinta Keefe.

To find out more or get involved next year check out our Darebin Schools NAIDOC Yarning Conference event page or contact us at Community.Wellbeing@darebin.vic.gov.au

  • This article was contributed by Uncle Charles Pakana, a proud Aboriginal journalist working with Darebin Council to tell First Nations stories.