A new school in Redfern offers hope to the community’s Indigenous children.
St. Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney’s Redfern area recently opened a new campus specifically for primary school aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from Redfern / Waterloo area.
The Gawura campus is the result of a concept that arose out of a visit the Head of School, Phillip Heath, made to South Africa in 2005. While he was there, he visited four small schools operating under the name of “Veluka” (enlighten).
“I was deeply moved to observe the efforts of a small group of people offering educational support to the children of Soweto,” Phillip says.
“They used space in Anglican churches in well-to-do suburbs of Johannesburg paying a peppercorn rent and receiving funds from private donation.”
These schools focused strongly on literacy and numeracy, as well as the development of self-esteem and social skills.
Phillip decided to take the Veluka model and, in 2005, the school formed a Task Force of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Redfern community for the purpose of designing a small community-based school that would meet the needs of the area.
“Our intention is to form a school of not more than 25 children in mixed staged classes from Kindergarten to Year 6 with very focussed teaching of literacy, numeracy and elements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and tradition,” Phillip says.
“We intend to make use of the strong educational resources enjoyed by St Andrew’s students and share some of the many benefits that a city education can offer.”
Gawura¸ which means “whale” in the Eora language, was a totem of the Aboriginal people in the Port Jackson region – a revered symbol of strength, beauty, endurance and hope.