Aboriginal Studies Showcase Enraptures

IGS is committed to fostering an inclusive and comprehensive understanding of First Nations cultures through its Aboriginal Studies program. The HSC Showcase, a pivotal event in the school’s calendar, demonstrates this commitment by highlighting student projects that embody their learning and respect for Aboriginal cultures.

Jade Carr Head of Indigenous Education and organiser of the Showcase makes clear the importance of Aboriginal studies not only at IGS but as part of the broader community. 

“We’re very lucky that we have the unique experience of teaching Aboriginal studies as an HSC subject at the school. We need to privilege Aboriginal Histories, cultures and languages. And the fact that we can do that through a dedicated subject, is vital within our school.

We’re immersed in the local Aboriginal communities. We have neighbouring suburbs of Glebe and Redfern where there are high Aboriginal populations. We’re here and we’re part of that community and we can tap into the community consultation and genuinely walk alongside Aboriginal people, allow our students to be able to engage with the community and learn from the community as well.

It’s unique in the sense that you get to choose whatever you want. The uniqueness of the major project component is the fact that students can hone into their particular skill set and their passions. Whether that be textiles, filmmaking, art, whatever it is, they can choose any subject that is related to the HSC curriculum and then develop a passion project. The kids are so successful, as we can see tonight, because they are able to play to their strengths.”

This sentiment of passion was on full display, with students proudly engaging with their curious peers, parents and teachers. Year 11 student Darcy O’Rourke explained,

“Aboriginal studies, in my experience, has been the only subject that I’ve really been able to work to my strengths and make a video that tells a story. It’s Aboriginal studies that is a unique outlet to make a documentary and to tell a story about these different people and the importance of community programs.”

Darcy’s documentary Voices of Belonging highlights the crucial role of Indigenous-led organisations over government policies in supporting Aboriginal communities. Darcy’s compelling documentary challenges viewers to recognise the importance of grassroots organisations in shaping the future of Aboriginal communities, urging a shift from top-down policies to Indigenous-led initiatives.

Nyree Davison’s art piece portrays the cultural connection to Country through the ocean and its pathways.  The work features several key components: the Heart of the Ocean in the bottom left, where colours cascade through the ocean water columns, and three saltwater communities, each represented by distinct symbols illustrating their physical and cultural ties to the ocean.

When asked what it means to her to have the opportunity to study Aboriginal Studies as a Indigenous student she expressed a sense of personal gratitude and happiness that her fellow students and the IGS community have the opportunity to be immersed in and learn from, Indigenous cultures.

“Personally, for me, since I’m Indigenous, it means being able to proclaim my identity. You know, find out more about my own culture and connect on another level.

Having an Aboriginal Studies Showcase, obviously you work on these projects for the academic aspect, but being able to talk to people, parents and community members about your project face to face is so amazing. It just reaffirms everything that I’ve been doing and being able to tell people my own story and give them my own perspective as an Indigenous person.

Not only does it show that people actually care about the culture, but the amount of effort that everybody puts into it as well. I’m so proud of my classmates and the things they have been doing are amazing and to be at such an influential age and having people come in and appreciate the effort that we’re putting in. As an Indigenous person, doing Aboriginal studies is awesome.”

Hearing students speak so eloquently about complex subjects with such empathy and thoughtfulness made it clear these students weren’t motivated by academic outcomes, but by the learning itself. Year 11 student Georgina Miller created a written anthology about the rich diversity of Aboriginal cultures and the unique experiences of those who sustain them. She passionately explained,

“That’s what my major work is highlighting, how people connect with culture, how they’ve lost or regained connections, and how they maintain them on an individual level. Because I think one of the things that people forget a lot when we talk about Aboriginal culture is the fact that it is multiple cultures and that it’s maintained on an individual level.”

Georgina’s nuanced exploration of this subject matter is the result of the time she spent working with Indigenous people to co-write this anthology. 

Student projects like Darcy O’Rourke’s documentary Voices of Belonging and Nyree Davison’s art piece on cultural connections through the ocean, showcase the profound impact of Indigenous-led organisations and the deep cultural ties to Country. Georgina Miller’s anthology highlights the diversity of Aboriginal cultures and the individuality of cultural connections. These works reflect the unique opportunities provided by the Aboriginal Studies program at IGS, allowing students to explore their passions and strengths.

The future of Aboriginal Studies at IGS is incredibly exciting, with continued emphasis on community engagement and cultural immersion. This program not only enriches students’ understanding but also fosters empathy and thoughtfulness, preparing them to contribute meaningfully to the broader community.

Jade Carr Head of Indigenous Education has worked tirelessly to put together this showcase with her students, a huge thank you goes to her for being the driving force behind Aboriginal studies at IGS.