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September 2021
Newsletter #1 

Welcome from the Chair

My name is Lirrpiya Munuŋgurr, I am the Learning On Country (LoC) Steering Committee Chairperson and Cultural Manager with Yirralka Rangers at Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation.

I have been working with the LOC Program for 10 years as Ŋaḻapaḻ (senior leader), an advisor and participant. I am inspired when I see the LoC Program working with our Homelands kids and Rangers, it matches the vision of the old people to pass on our knowledge and stories.

The partnership between the Rangers and the School provides a ‘Both Ways’ learning approach to help our kids develop and grow in two worlds (Yolŋu and balanda).
The Traditional Owners and whole community get involved with LOC events telling dhäwu (stories) performing manikay (songs) and buŋgul (ceremonial dance) and telling the history and connection of our people with the land and sea, our djalkiri (foundations) and gurruṯu (kinship).

I hope you enjoy our first newsletter.

Teachers change lives    

Photo Caption: Minister Hon Selena Uibo MLA Minister for Parks and Rangers (middle right), presented a traditional fish trap by Cindy Jinmarabynana (middle left) from Maningrida, which was made by LoC students and Elders of the Ji-Bena Outstation, along with Minister Lauren Moss MLA Minister for Education.
Minister Hon Selena Uibo MLA, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs dropped in to say hello at the Steering Committee Meeting in March, along with the Hon Lauren Moss MLA, Minister for Education. Minister Uibo was presented this traditional fish trap by Cindy Jinmarabynana from Maningrida, which was made by LoC students and Elders of the Ji-Bena Outstation. It was a special moment for both Cindy and the Minister, as Cindy recounted that Minister Uibo’s mum used to be her teacher in school!

The LoC members respectfully acknowledge the recent passing of Didamain Uibo and her deep contribution to NT Education over many years. Her legacy will stand as an example to all who follow. On behalf of the LoC we send our deepest condolences to Selena and the Uibo family.

Deadly facts, Deadly progress! 

As our schools are kick starting Term 3, it’s great to be able to look back on a pretty impressive first half of the 2021 school year and the outcomes of the Learning on Country Program. The results are promising, and LoC Program students are making deadly progress!

Some highlights from January – June 2021, collated from across the 15 sites;
  • 1605 Indigenous students have participated in LoC Program activities during the last 6 months
  • 706 Indigenous students from the Middle and Senior schools participated in core/regular Program activities at a minimum of one day per week
  • 341 Indigenous people worked 16,913 hours in the delivery and support of the Program.
  • 177 students are enrolled in VET based courses predominantly CEM Cert I & II resulting in over 500 Units of Study completions this period.
  • 43 students are engaged in work experience or internship based (work transition) initiatives.
  • 5 students transitioned from the Senior Secondary school LoC Program into employment this period.
  • 13 out of 15 schools reported an average 83.6% of students in remote schools participated in the LoC Program.
  • 10 out of 15 schools reported a 75% retention rate in LoC activities.
The LOC Program continues to be strongly supported by the local communities in which it is being delivered and although remote student attendance is down somewhat during this period, Indigenous students are continuing to attend and engage in LoC activities. 

LoC Site Spotlight: Ngukurr 

The Ngukurr community only joined the LoC Program in late 2018 but has already reported significant achievements from its participating students in Years 9-12. A strong foundation for the Program has been established through the delivery partnership between the Ngukurr Community Education Centre and the NLC Yugul Mangi Land and Sea Rangers and the program enlists a holistic community approach to educating and developing employment pathways for their students. 
Ngukurr has a dedicated focus on the integration of curriculum through SACE based units that also contribute to NTCET attainment. LoC Staff and teachers work to adapt the learning material with local context to increase engagement and the program receives strong and committed support from Traditional Owners, the wider community and local organisations
A close relationship between the LoC program and the Wuyagiba Bush Study Hub allows for students to visit the study hub for day trips or camps to participate in two-way pre-uni activities to see if it is the right path for them. Currently three LoC students are undertaking their University Pathway Course. 
The Ngukurr LoC Program also engages students with a wide range of community organisations, run in partnership with Community Elders, the Art Centre and the Rangers, which have contributed to the development of skills in literacy, numeracy, science and technology.  
Ngukurr CEC currently has students in Years 9-12 completing units from the Certificate II in Conservation and Ecosystem Management. These units will enable students to develop a range of vocational skills and gain experience working in a real workplace setting with the Yugul Mangi Rangers. This improves educational outcomes for students by developing tangible skills that can be applied directly to possible post-school employment opportunities. Completion of the Certificate II will also contribute significantly towards NTCET graduations in 2022.

West Arnhem Visit  

Recently, LoC Program Coordinator Shane Bailey visited Maningrida, Ramingining and Gunbalanya LoC Networks as part of his West Arnhem site visit road-show.
Shane said it was extremely worthwhile to get on the ground and catch up with everyone one in their communities and see the great outcomes the Programs are achieving.
“You all made me feel very welcome. Much appreciation to Batman, Chrystal and Dan and Principals Petrina, Sue and Daniel. Thanks for the great work you are doing out there engaging your students with your communities, Rangers and Teachers. These visits coincided with Bill and Kate’s Evaluation Interviews and on behalf of all of us, I send a thank you to all the sites that took the time to participate in this extremely important process.”

Galtha Rom camp at Bukuḏal

A significant cultural learning event – called a Galtha Rom – was held in August for secondary students from Laynhapuy Homelands School and Gapuwiyak Community School, about the cultural significance of Baṉumbirr (the Morning Star) to local Yolŋu clans. The 3-day camp was held at Bukuḏal Homeland in northeast Arnhem Land; land of the Djapu clan and home of the Baṉumbirr story. Activities revolved around students learning the story, song and dance of Baṉumbirr. The event culminated with students being awoken by elders and rangers at 4am to participate in a memorable dawn Baṉumbirr ceremony to welcome the Baṉumbirr to the day. During this ceremony, older students led the dancing under instruction from elders and a Baṉumbirr (Morning Star Pole) made by students and elders was presented to school leaders. Many students have strong clan connections to the Baṉumbirr and this Galtha Rom camp formed a big part of their learning for Term 3.

The event was a collaboration between Laynhapuy Homelands School Learning on Country Program and Gapuwiyak School Learning on Country Program, both supported by Yirralka Rangers and Bukuḏal community leaders. Around 50 secondary students attended from the two schools. 
Photo Caption: (Left to right): Stanley Rankin – Aboriginal Cultural Advisor on Evaluation, Bill Fogarty and Kate Bellchambers

Monitoring, Evaluation and Research   

Since its inception, there has been a strong focus on the need to monitor and evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the LoC Program, providing an independent evidence base to assess the success of the Program. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation are also important to help identify improvements for the Program, and to understand the successes and the challenges at each site.

Bill Fogarty and Kate Chambers from Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the Australian National University in Canberra have been working closely with the NLC Team, the Steering Committee members, community members and other stakeholders as a part of the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) process. The evaluation design was specifically intended to maximise stakeholder input into the design of the evaluation and data collection methodology, ensure robust data analysis, and provide ongoing feedback of findings to stakeholders.
Joining the M&E Team is Stanley Rankin, as the Aboriginal Cultural Advisor on Evaluation. Stanley recently moved to Darwin with his family from Maningrida where he formerly worked with the Lurra Language and Culture team at Maningrida College. Stanley speaks seven languages and has been an invaluable asset to the M&E Team, supporting consultations, interviews and information gathering. Stanley’s father’s language is Djinang and his mother’s language is Wurlaki, both part of the Yolgnu group, and Stanley is also a ceremonial leader of the Wurrkiganydjarr clan group.
An M&E Workshop was conducted at the March 2021 to identify what Indigenous people value about the LoC Program.  The LoC Program Steering Committee provided the research team with valuable insights into their community’s perspectives on the program.
The research team was back in Darwin recently to conduct site interviews on country as a follow up from the workshop. Sadly, COVID stopped Bill and Kate from getting out into communities, however with Stanley’s help they managed to conduct interviews in five different languages with Gapuwiyak, Galiwinku, Ramingining, Milingimbi, Maningrida and Gunbalanya community members.

Something Fishy happening in Milingimbi!   

Milingimbi Learning on Country students and the Crocodile Island Rangers have been constructing a fish trap fence similar to ‘Betŋu’ from the Yan-nhangu language meaning fish trap fence. Instead of using a tight weave and mewana as the material, they have used skinny stringy bark trees to construct the fence and then blocked the opening (where the fish go) with a conical fish trap, An-gujechiya in the language Burarra, Daku in the language Djambaraapuyngu. This has been a project that classes from year 3-4 all the way up to seniors have been working on, so safe to say a whole school effort (over 60 students)! Traditionally this kind of fish trap is only done by males due to the extensive workload and cultural norm. The students are now waiting in anticipation for the new moon to set the trap and see what they catch!
Photo: Left to Right (Top Row): Rosetta Wayatja – Milingimbi, Ursula Badari – Gunbalanya, Linda Williams – Ngukurr, Stephanie Anderson – Borroloola, Bobby Wunungmurra – Gapuwiyak, Lirrpiya Mununggurr (Chair) – Laynhapuy HL, Alister Andrews – Barunga, Fabian Marika – Yirrkala Dhimurru. Left to Right (Seated): Frieda Wurramara – Angurugu, Cindy Jinmarabynana (Co Chair) – Maningrida, Hilda Ngalmi – Numbulwar, Richard Milurrurr – Ramingining, Joseph Diddo – Maningrida (Proxy), Danny Dangadanga – Galiwinku. Apologies: Umbakumba Member, Beswick Member. 

Introducing the LoC Steering Committee  

Underpinning the ongoing adoption, sustainability and success of the LoC Program is the emphasis on Indigenous governance and community ownership of the program, which is ensured through the guidance and directives of the Local LoC Committee and the LoC Steering Committee.
Governance of the program is undertaken by the Local LoC Committee which meets a minimum of four times a year and is made up of a Coordinator and key stakeholders from schools, Ranger groups and other community representatives as appropriate. The Local Committee nominates the Indigenous LLOC Chairperson, whose role includes participation in the overarching Steering Committee. The LoC Program Steering Committee guides and oversees the delivery of the program, in accordance with community aspirations.
The Learning on Country Program enjoys strong community and institutional support because it brings together two knowledge systems that link culture and curriculum. The ‘two toolbox approach’ that incorporates both Western and Indigenous knowledge systems to deliver culturally appropriate education and training that supports remote students’ training and employment pathways.

The LoC Program is delivered to secondary students with a key focus on the senior secondary student cohort. The teaching and learning programs are developed collaboratively between school and Ranger staff, with a focus on field-based activity, drawing on traditional and western knowledge systems. Activities include a wide range of Ranger groups' projects and responsibilities around land and sea management and modelled by cultural knowledge-based activities as directed by Traditional Owners.

The intent is to incorporate LoC into the learning culture of both the school and the community of people who support it. Field workshops and school-based learning activities are linked directly to NTCET, Australian Curriculum and VET Certificate outcomes.

The foundation to this pedagogy is sound cultural learning and validation of the program by senior Indigenous cultural mentors. Culturally-based learning activities (intergenerational knowledge transfer) is delivered by Cultural Advisors and Traditional Owners, and can be undertaken as in-class workshops, day trips or extended activities such as cultural camps.

The LoC Program is both an incubator and succession planning solution for various industry sectors involved in the sustainable use of land, sea and conservation management (Working on Country, Indigenous Protected Area Programs). In many ways the LoC Program has come to be regarded as developing the next generation of Rangers and traditional custodians.

Farewells & Welcomes   

Semester 2 this year has kicked off without a couple of our long term and very well respected Coordinators. LoC Program Coordinators, Daniel McLaren from Gunbalanya and Richard Moore from Angurugu will be commencing a 12 month study leave period. Their commitment and passion for the LoC Program, their students and their network would be evident to all whom have had the opportunity to spend time with them. Both have had many years teaching experience in the remote Indigenous education space and have co-developed sound and engaging LoC Programs that have set a solid foundation for the future. Best wishes to them both and let’s hope we see them back in 2022.
We are very excited however to be able to welcome some new LoC Program Site Coordinators to the LoC family!
Helena Yarrngu Wachope will take over from Dan at Gunbalanya and Tim Reilly will step in for Richard at Angurugu. We also welcome the recently appointed Coordinator for Jawoyn, Beswick and Barunga, Shona Duffill. They are all looking forward to an exciting Term 3. Welcome aboard team!

News & Events 

2021 NT Natural Resource Management Awards 

Nominations are now open for the 2021 NT NRM Awards, recognising the Territory’s champions of natural resource management! From farming and fishing, to tourism and conservation, to recreation and health on country, management of these natural resources is supported by a range of products and services and most importantly, people and community. Nominations close at midnight on Friday, 24 September 2021. Find out more

New LoC website is coming soon! 

The Learning on Country Program will soon be launching its very first website! The website will be a valuable resource on all things LoC, including its history, community profiles, research, case studies and program outcomes.

You can also keep up to date with all things LoC by liking and following the Learning on Country Facebook page
The Learning on Country (LoC) Program a community driven initiative delivered through a teaching and learning partnership between community schools and local ranger groups in 15 communities across the Top End region of the Northern Territory. LoC is funded by the National Indigenous Australian Agency and administered by the Northern Land Council.

Copyright © 2021 Northern Land Council, All rights reserved.

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