Published on August 6, 2019
The Hunter Valley Grammar School Yarning Circle was officially opened during our NAIDOC Week celebrations. This culturally meaningful learning space sits beautifully nestled under the shade of native Spotted Gums and Ironbarks – remnants of the Eucalyptus sclerophyll forest which once dominated the area. Framed by a freshly planted bush tucker garden it’s a place of cultural and educational significance, and also a stepping-stone to further promote the process of reconciliation.
Traditionally a Yarning Circle is an important process within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It has been used by Indigenous peoples from around the world for centuries to learn from a collective group, build respectful relationships, and to preserve and pass on cultural knowledge. A Yarning Circle is a harmonious and collaborative way of communicating to:
· encourage responsible, respectful and honest interactions between participants, building trusting relationships
· foster accountability and provide a safe place to be heard and to respond
· promote student-to-student interactions and school-to-community connectedness
Our Yarning Circle is accessible to all teachers, across our three Schools, to utilise and encourage collaboration within their teaching and is a significant step in acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the positive influence that culture can play in education.
All the materials used including the sandstone blocks and gravel represent the natural colours of the earth. The plants selected to further enhance our Yarning Circle have been chosen for their use as either ‘Bush Tucker’ or their utilitarian aspects within traditional Aboriginal society.
The official opening was attended by the Lord Mayor, the Honourable Loretta Baker, members of the School Board, prominent members of the Wonnarua community and members of the Junior Aboriginal Education Coordinators Group (AECG). We were also thankful to have Michael Heitmeyer perform a traditional smoking ceremony.
The successful design and creation of this Yarning Circle and surrounding garden, could not have been achieved without the corporation of many individuals, who together formed a small creative think tank. Here is a place that truly complements the natural surroundings of the school; a true communal effort!