In the remote community of Bulman in the Northern Territory, First Nations students are learning about their culture and how to care for their country from the Mimal Women Rangers. The Learning On Country program, funded by the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust, is a partnership between Mimal Rangers and the local school. The On Country lessons are a regular and formal part of the curriculum. The effect is seeing school attendance rise and new opportunities for local employment and further education.
Project: Mimal Learning on Country
Location: Gulin Gulin (Bulman), Northern Territory, Australia
At the Gulin school, a Kindergarten to Year 12 school, students work alongside the Mimal Women Rangers learning about culture and land management as part of their school day. The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust help facilitate the program and in partnership with the school and Women Rangers, are helping create and implement a Learning On Country curriculum.
During regular lessons and through community culture camps, students learn about bush tucker, traditional medicine, storytelling, weed identification and management, fire making and management, spear making, weaving, feral animal control, rock art, and cultural harvesting.
Students are also taught by the Rangers to use conservation software to survey and track weeds and animals helping collect and collate local geo-referenced data for monitoring and management. Learning about fire also includes technology using 3D mapping tools to teach students about the characteristics of a wildfire, weather effects, risks, hazards and management.
Building the cultural and land management knowledge of students using both ancient and modern approaches is making a difference at school and for the community. Through the partnership with the Rangers, Elders and their school, a shared sense of connection, understanding and belonging is helping increase school attendance among younger students. What the program is keen to achieve is to encourage the older students to complete Year 12 and have opportunities for local employment or further studies in land and cultural management.
Student Shaniqua Huddleston really likes the program because she goes on country with the Women Rangers and Elders and is learning more about her culture and new ways of reading the land.
The practical support of The Phillips Foundation (TPF) enables the program to operate. Resources provide staff and casual wages, equipment for camps and travels costs. This has helped 60 students to participate on the program. The impact, however, is much greater.