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immersion (cont'd) On Monday morning we attended the Gulargambone spending time with the community however one boy in Central School. Over two days the boys helped out as particularly, left a permanent mark. At just 14 he was a teacher aids while the dads participated in a working bee talented rugby player and very sociable character. So it at the school. Gulargambone Central School is a dual was disturbing to learn that he was already in trouble with primary and secondary school with a high proportion of the law. This young man was not the only when suffering indigenous students. The school does face several social in Gulargambone; in fact the town features adversely on issues including truancy and falling attendance in higher a number of social indicators including health, education, years. Current enrolment is only 70 including two students unemployment, poverty and crime. Despite a lot of positive sitting for the HSC in 2011. action for Aboriginals in the last 40 years, adversity is still The Principal, Mr Robert Townsend, made us very present in the community. Despite these social issues, in welcome and we were impressed by the commitment of the Gulargambone there exists a strong sense of community - a teaching staff, the quality of the facilities including ample connection that is often lacking in our city environment. So grounds and the general application of the students. We as much as we have to offer them, there is a lot we can heard that one student attended school for the first time ever learn as well. for five days in a row while we were there and after we The experience of Gulargambone really cannot be put left. For us it was a chance to learn about education in the into words easily. What I experienced is maybe one of the bush, Indigenous issues and generally to communicate and most enjoyable and moving trips of my life. There were live the spirit of “a man for others”. Each evening as a group so many people that I met and had great conversations we reflected over the days events. Our work in the school with. It was a very free flowing experience, not one person continued on the Tuesday with some rotation of duties. The shunned me from the experience. Dads helped out with a Working Bee around the school As a Dad, I found the experience very rewarding in that and a sausage sizzle on the Tuesday when an all school it gave me “time out” to spend some one on one time with assembly was held. The boys made a presentation to the my son. Some of the rewarding experiences that stood out Principal at the assembly. for me included: In the afternoons we went to the local after school The passionate and openness of the community in care. The facility is run by Robin Delaney and is plays the Dubbo Mens’ Shed – they welcomed group from an important role in providing activities for children after Sydney and shared their challenges and objectives in school. Our boys helped out in participating in various a most engaging way. games including basketball and volleyball. At afterschool The community spirit in Gulargambone - it took so many care our boys “blew” emu eggs and then ate scrambled different forms, encompassed both Indigenous and emu eggs – delicious! On our last night our boys made a non-Indigenous cultures and was unique to the town. presentation to a local Aboriginal Elder. We helped paint It included the river bank clearing, the coffee shop over graffiti in town parks. Wednesday was the long drive set-up, the investment of time from the older members back to Sydney. of the community in the future of the local school and Over the five days we learnt about living in the bush. the efforts to assist children in need. We learnt about Indigenous and male issues of survival in The local farming community – they way they welcomed tough environments. We helped the environment through us, showed us around their farms and openly shared clearing the banks of the Castlereagh River. We helped their challenges, dreams and disappointments round out in the classroom. At the school we were inspired by the fire at night. a positive response to our efforts and this encourages us to want do more. Many of the community activists we met The realisation that money is not the solution for the gave selflessly and wholeheartedly to a community they myriad of issues we have allowed to develop in the loved. They were an inspiration. indigenous communities we share this great country Gulargambone: a small Aboriginal town in the middle with. of nowhere. In June of this year four Year 10 boys and their fathers found their selves standing in the dusty centre of this formerly prosperous town that is currently experiencing decline. During our brief yet poignant immersion we aimed to gain an insight into the plight of the Aboriginal community. Both at the local school with just 65 students and the youth centre we were able to interact with the Indigenous youth population. No matter what barriers and differences existed between us, they were all traversed by a simple game of touch football - a game in which we were taught a lesson by 12 year-old Aboriginal girls. We thoroughly enjoyed St Aloysius’ College A Jesuit School for Boys _ Founded 1879 a l oy s i a d / page 58


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