PALS Project Toolkit

A guide to assist educators with project ideas for the PALS program, a reconciliation focused grants program for Western Australian schools. PALS aims to incorporate and increase the understanding of Aboriginal cultures, histories and communities in classroom learning.

Download the PALS Project Toolkit

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Minister's foreword

The State Government is proud to support the Partnership, Acceptance, Learning, Sharing (PALS) program which encourages Western Australian schools to develop projects that promote reconciliation in their local school and community.

Since its inception in 2004, there has been a steady increase in the number of schools participating each year. The PALS program is now in its 16th year.

The year 2019 saw over 100,000 students across 643 schools throughout Western Australia participating in PALS projects. This represents over half the schools in the State, infact fifty-eight per cent.

To further enhance the program, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has developed the PALS Project Toolkit.

The toolkit was created to assist educators to integrate reconciliation activities into their daily practices and curriculum. It also provides meaningful project ideas and shows schools how to build relationships with their local Aboriginal Community in order to increase knowledge of Aboriginal peoples, cultures and histories.

Having seen a wonderful array of PALS projects in schools throughout WA, I know firsthand the positive impact the PALS program has. It entrenches cultural understanding through shared experiences that allow non-Aboriginal students to become immersed in cultural activities, while creating the opportunity for Aboriginal students to share their heritage with pride.

The continuing success of the PALS program demonstrates the commitment of students, schools, parents and Aboriginal community members to embrace reconciliation and cultural awareness.

I encourage all Western Australian schools and school communities to get involved to build upon and support reconciliation across the State. Let’s all work together as one for a better tomorrow.

Ben Wyatt MLA
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

About PALS

PALS is an initiative of the State Government to encourage all WA schools to develop projects that promote and advance reconciliation in their local community. By supporting projects that enhance the education and understanding of Aboriginal histories and cultures in the classroom, we gain a deeper understanding of the cultures and achievements of Aboriginal people — a key to recognising our shared histories and unified futures.

PALS is managed by the department.

PALS is based on the core principles of:

  • Partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people based on trust, mutual respect and understanding
  • Acceptance of, and respect for, diversity and valuing Aboriginal perspectives
  • Learning more about each other, Aboriginal histories, languages and cultures and how we can build strong partnerships with Aboriginal people
  • Sharing a common journey towards healing and reconciliation.

A PALS grant of $1000 is available for your school to complete a project aligned with one or more of the following categories:

  1. Arts
  2. Community Relationships
  3. Connecting to Country and Culture
  4. Inclusive Environments
  5. History
  6. Language.

Reconciliation WA states that at the core of reconciliation is the sound relationship between the broader Australian community and our First Australians — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

To achieve reconciliation we have to respect, reflect and acknowledge the unique contribution made by our First Australians and to have clear, open and sometimes courageous conversations about our real shared history since colonisation. (Reconciliation Australia, 2017).

The PALS Project Toolkit is designed to assist you with planning and developing your project. It provides:

  • an overview of the six funding categories
  • ideas for possible projects
  • past examples of successful projects
  • a list of recommended resources.

Before you get started, consider the following steps to assist with your project planning and development.

Access the PALS Planning Sheet to plan your project.

Downloads

Engaging the Aboriginal community in PALS projects

Collaboration with local Aboriginal people is essential for the authenticity of PALS projects. It may take the form of incursions, excursions or both. It may also be about seeking advice on your project. This is what is referred to as being ‘culturally appropriate’ or ‘culturally responsive’. It means linking in the Aboriginal community to the design, decision and delivery of projects to ensure the teaching of Aboriginal histories and cultures is locally relevant and appropriate.

There are more than 50 Aboriginal cultural groups in Western Australia, all distinguishable by their unique language or dialect. As such, it is important to recognise these contexts and differences as much as possible when teaching Aboriginal histories and cultures.

Involvement may be sought from:

  • Elders sharing their personal stories or knowledge of Country with the class
  • local Aboriginal people knowledgeable about local history, bush plants and Aboriginal seasons
  • speakers of local language teaching words to teachers and students
  • guided tours of significant places
  • Aboriginal artists working with students to design and create artwork as part of a project
  • Aboriginal singers, musicians or dancers
  • families offering advice about the appropriate location of artwork, a trail or bush garden
  • students interviewing local Aboriginal people or asking permission to document or record stories
  • local Aboriginal community, cultural or language centres
  • representatives of Aboriginal community organisations
  • Aboriginal people sharing their personal experiences and histories such as Stolen Generation survivors or returned service men or women.

Who to contact/invite to participate in PALS projects:

  • Aboriginal families at your school
  • local Elders
  • local traditional owners
  • Aboriginal identities, local legends or cultural practitioners
  • members of Aboriginal community organisations.

Individuals and organisations that can assist you:

  • your school, or a nearby school’s Aboriginal Education Officer or Aboriginal Teaching Assistant
  • Aboriginal Education team in your schooling sector
  • Aboriginal community centres, such as the Langford Aboriginal Association, or the Armadale Champion Centre
  • Aboriginal land and sea councils (see recommended resources)
  • Aboriginal Prescribed Body Corporates (APBCs.) These are Aboriginal led corporations that represent the different communities, as determined by Native Title. Search the APBCs.
  • Aboriginal culture and language centres
  • Aboriginal radio stations
  • local government councils. If you are not sure who to approach or whether there are Aboriginal organisations in your area, then this is a good place to start. The demographic and population of Aboriginal people in WA differs from area to area, so your council or shire should have a good idea of this.

Linking projects to the Western Australian Curriculum, Standards frameworks and Improvement Continuum

Cross-curriculum Priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

From 2020 it is a mandatory component of the PALS funding, for projects to demonstrate clear links to aspects of the WA Curriculum. This is to encourage projects to be established within larger units of work and integrated into classroom learning. It also develops a deeper learning experience for students and staff alike.

See the Connecting to Curriculum information resource that provides you with examples of different aspects of the curriculum that align with the six PALS project categories. It is also helpful to review the below frameworks to ensure you are aligning to the current WA Education sector standards of being culturally responsible and proficient. This is especially important when developing lessons and projects regarding Aboriginal cultures and histories or teaching Aboriginal students.

WA public schools: Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework

This Framework encompasses five standards and a continuum that can assist your school in its overarching progression toward cultural responsiveness.

  • Relationships
  • Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Learning environment
  • Resources.

It is also aligned to the six categories of the PALS program to make it easier for you in developing your projects.

WA Catholic Schools: The Aboriginal Education Improvement Map (AIEM)

The AEIM is a multipurpose tool for whole school improvement, using an Aboriginal education lens. Underpinned by a cultural competency framework and strengthened by First Peoples Principles of Learning, the AEIM supports schools to identify and map school improvement across stages of cultural competency. There are seven AEIM Priorities, with two that align well with the PALS program — Perspectives and Partnerships. PALS funding can be used to support your school to progress through the AEIM stages of cultural competence.

More information on the improvement map.

Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) Schools:

AISWA Schools can use a range of frameworks to create new ways of engaging with Aboriginal people and communities to implement solutions that will sustainability improve outcomes. These frameworks can include the Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework, AEIM and The Western Australian Curriculum Cross-curriculum Priorities Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture. For more information on AISWA frameworks, please contact Lisa Fieldhouse by emailing lfieldhouse@ais.wa.edu.au

Arts

Arts Category: Embracing traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art by exploring visual and performing art forms; engaging with Aboriginal people to share traditional knowledge, to learn about these art forms and to understand the role of art as a means of storytelling in Aboriginal culture.

In visual or fine art there are many forms and styles of Aboriginal art. This can be in the way of traditional forms such as painting, to contemporary art such as an art sculpture. Styles can also differ according to certain cultural groups or geographical locations. For example, dot paint style is an adapted form of Aboriginal art and one that originated from the Western and Central desert regions in Australia.

It is not traditionally associated with Noongar art, which is originally typified by non-abstract landscape styles. When teaching about Aboriginal art, teachers should familiarise themselves with these contexts noting that today artists are diverse in their practices. Schools are encouraged to work with Aboriginal artists, rather than paint or teach students about art forms.

Many schools choose to produce a work of art as their PALS project with Aboriginal contribution or leadership. It can be placed in a prominent position in the school, providing a strong statement to all who enter the space, that Aboriginal peoples and cultures are acknowledged and respected in the school community. Aboriginal arts also include music, dance and theatre through the performing arts. Stories can be shared and acted out to tell the history of an event, or a story about culture. Musicians can be invited in to teach a song for a performance incorporating cultural traditions such as language or the didgeridoo. In addition, new technologies have changed the way society creates and experiences art. Multi-media and digital platforms, such as animation and video can be used to create films and tell cultural stories.

Possible projects include:

  • working with local Aboriginal artists to create a mural depicting a local dreaming story or some aspects of local Aboriginal culture/food/seasons
  • a painted entrance way, walls or playground in conjunction with a local artist
  • an artwork with the theme of reconciliation in your school or community
  • a music or dance project with an Aboriginal musician or dancer
  • a study and display of Aboriginal picture book illustrators
  • an Aboriginal illustrator in residence
  • a reconciliation path by students under the guidance of an Aboriginal artist
  • an excursion (or virtual excursion for regional schools) to the John Curtin Gallery to view The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork
  • a school production as an adaptation of literature written by an Aboriginal author
  • the creation of an art piece using learned techniques from an Aboriginal artist
  • a soundscape using sounds to tell a story
  • an exhibition displaying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
  • an excursion to Fremantle Prison to uncover the works of Aboriginal inmates
  • a basket weaving workshop run by a local Aboriginal artist
  • a study of traditional and contemporary art developed by Aboriginal artists
  • a performance illustrating a keystone event in Australia’s history relating to Aboriginal peoples
  • a compare and contrast of various Aboriginal art styles from around Western Australia.

Past examples of successful projects:

Eddie Mabo Mural and Animation, Video Mater Dei College, 2017

The school designed and painted a mural of Eddie Mabo which was installed in the central courtyard at the College. The mural involved forty students over Term 2 and 3. Students contributed their time to construct and paint the powerful image which is now used as a teaching tool. In addition to the Eddie Mabo mural, students created a short animation of Eddie Mabo’s many achievements. All future Year 7 and 8 students will learn about Eddie Mabo by viewing this video.

Heart Learning (Koort Kadadjiny Kadadjiny),Newman College, 2018

Year 11 drama students collaborated with Aboriginal artists to create and perform an original piece of epic theatre titled ‘Heart Learning (Koort Kadadjiny Kadadjiny)’. The theatre piece is a celebration of diversity, survival, transformation and growth in the hope for reconciliation. The performance used Noongar language, original music, song, body percussion and movement, and digital projection of visual art to share a true cultural representation of Australia’s history from 1788 to present.

Indigenous Hip Hop Projects: Bidgy Style, La Grange Remote Community School, 2015

The school worked with Elders in the community to write lyrics for a song about their community. The students then made a video performing the song, which was uploaded to YouTube for others to see.

Community Relationships

Community Relationships Category: Building relationships that are based on collaboration, respect and mutual trust with Aboriginal people, as the First Nations people of Australia, is important. Developing and maintaining sustainable partnerships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the entire school community is a way to work toward reconciliation and to achieve more inclusive and cohesive communities. This can be between students, families, staff and local people.

Establishing community relationships is a key part of the PALS program. Whether it is consulting an Aboriginal person on ideas or engaging an Aboriginal community representative to occupy a lead role in the project or as a keynote speaker, this is what forms and displays ‘cultural awareness or responsibility’. It builds an increased understanding of contemporary Aboriginal social dynamics as well as a deeper understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal cultures and communities. With a better understanding of Aboriginal Australia, we are able to create a space within our school community that is culturally inclusive and responsive to the needs of our Aboriginal students, families and community members.

Possible projects include:

  • inviting Aboriginal community members to sit on a panel to discuss current affairs
  • an open day inviting Aboriginal families into the school to share and promote Aboriginal cultures
  • a partnership with a local or remote primary/high school to coordinate an event or program
  • a partnership with a local organisation to complete a community project
  • an excursion to a local university inviting Aboriginal students to experience the tertiary environment
  • running a Harmony Day and/or a NAIDOC event which focuses on reconciliation
  • a ‘language in schools’ program run in consultation with a community Elder, or Aboriginal language speaker
  • hosting a gathering with Aboriginal community members of school and wider community
  • inviting Aboriginal community members to school events such as NAIDOC and Sorry Day
  • inviting Aboriginal community members into the classroom and liaising with them to coordinate a series of lessons for a particular part of the curriculum
  • formulating a relationship with local Aboriginal organisations and creating a two-way partnership that will support your school in its endeavors in the Aboriginal Education space.

Past examples of successful projects:

‘Because Of Her, We Can!’ Short Film, St Maria Goretti’s Catholic School, 2018

The school celebrated NAIDOC Week by developing a short film titled ‘Because Of Her, We Can!’. Six Aboriginal women from the school’s community were invited to share their stories and experiences with students and be interviewed for the short film. Students were immersed in a nine-week unit of work to explore women in society throughout history, focusing on Aboriginal women. They used what they had learned in class, along with their digital technology skills to complete the project.

Kids Together: Sharing Cultures, Sharing School Exchange Program, Swanbourne Primary School, 2019

Each year, Swanbourne students participate in a ‘sharing schools’ program with La Grange Remote Community School with children from both schools visiting one another to learn and better understand cultural diversity. When in Bidyadanga, Swanbourne students have the opportunity to explore the strong spiritual connection that Aboriginal people have with the land whilst hearing stories from traditional owners about where they come from. Students from La Grange Remote Community School, when visiting Swanbourne Primary School, engage in learning experiences designed to build their knowledge, skills and understanding of non-Aboriginal cultural practices and perspectives.

Newman Indigenous Tour, Kennedy Baptist College, 2019

A partnership was formed between Kennedy Baptist College and Jigalong Remote Community School. Students were taken to visit the Rabbit Proof Fence by an Aboriginal community member. Students helped clean up a local farm and held a community car wash. In addition to this, the school donated proceeds from the car wash to a local charity that provides traineeships for Martu people. The tour focused on cultural immersion and engagement with the local Aboriginal community.

Connecting to Country and Culture

Connecting to Country and Culture Category: Explores the strong spiritual connection Aboriginal people have with Country, which is a defining element of Aboriginal culture. This includes the importance of land, caring for Country and using natural resources in a sustainable manner; spending time on Country; and learning about the historical and cultural significance of the school’s local area.

It is imperative that students understand their local area and the historical connection that Aboriginal people have with the land which spans over 65,000 years. It is also important to recognise the ongoing connection that Aboriginal people have with Country and the locality of this in the present day. PALS projects that focus on connecting students to Country through local Aboriginal people, language, stories and landmarks are popular and important. Keep in mind that when Aboriginal people talk about ‘Country’, it can also mean an ecology of place: the land, sea, sky, flora and fauna.

Significant sites on Country hold important information about aspects of Aboriginal cultures and histories and spiritual connection to the land. They can be natural features of the land and sea or human-made structures. It is important to ensure staff and students are respectful when visiting a significant site. It is also recommended that in-class learning is undertaken to ensure students are aware of why the site is sacred and/or important to Aboriginal people. Inviting a local Aboriginal community member to talk about this or provide you with the information is a good idea.

Possible projects include:

  • an excursion with local Aboriginal guides to explain the historical and/or cultural significance of places e.g. places where events occurred such as the Pinjarra Massacre; historical sites such as the exclusion zones (the “Common Gate” in Broome, the “Exclusion Zone” in Perth), the location of Missions and Reserves, archaeological sites, rock art and engraving sites; monuments such as the statue of Yagan on Heirisson Island, the Six Seasons monument in Bunbury, the Memorial to Indigenous servicemen in Kings Park (Kaarta Gar-up) and marked and unmarked grave sites such as on Rottnest Island (Wadjemup)
  • mapping your local area pre and post colonisation
  • investigating the effects of colonisation and industrialisation on sites of significance e.g. farming, mining, building
  • learning about the Dreaming stories connected to a particular place(s)
  • a walk trail following in the steps of someone such as Jandamarra or Yagan
  • a pilgrimage, stopping at significant sites along the way e.g. the Lurujarri Trail in Broome
  • planning and developing a native bush plant garden
  • developing a yarning circle
  • a Seasons Calendar indicating the present season, displayed in a prominent position in your school
  • learning about Aboriginal place names and how they relate to the landforms and/or land use and/or stories of the place
  • an Aboriginal astronomy night or week where students share their learning and stories of Aboriginal astronomy with other students and families
  • a class e-book adapted from Nadia Wheatley’s book ‘My Place’
  • a study of the document Uluru: Statement From the Heart.

Past examples of successful projects:

Inspiring Indigenous Perspectives within the Wheatbelt, Yealering Primary School, 2018

The school organised several activities to celebrate the contributions of Aboriginal people. This included the creation of a yarning circle and a day of activities including bush walks, construction of a mia-mia (Noongar shelter) didgeridoo lessons and a talk from local Elders. This project was a fantastic starting point for the small Wheatbelt school and has inspired further learning for the community.

Back to Nature Excursion, Mount Barker Community College, 2019

Students were taken out on Country to learn the traditional roles of Aboriginal men and women. Male students were shown how to make a didgeridoo (though not traditionally from the area) and female students were taught basket weaving.

Tree4Change Noongar Experience, Ardross Primary School, 2018

Students from Ardross Primary School travelled to Anketell North and took part in a five-school project to plant ten thousand seedlings on one hectare of degraded Banksia woodland. Students were joined by a Noongar Elder to learn about the importance of caring for land. The children learned about the Stolen Generation and gained a deeper understanding of the importance of the environment from a Noongar perspective.

Inclusive Environments

Inclusive Environments Category: Creating learning environments that respect the cultures, languages and experiences of Aboriginal people is key to overcoming disadvantage and working toward meaningful reconciliation. This can include making a physical space that enables students to learn in settings that are ‘culturally inclusive’. This means, for example, lessons that are connected to local histories, cultures and languages; and establishing initiatives and approaches that support the physical health and social and emotional wellbeing of students.

An inclusive and welcoming environment indicates a culturally responsive school in line with the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework and Catholic Education’s Aboriginal Education Improvement Map.

Successful projects that come under this theme include those that involve learning about and improving physical and/or mental health and wellbeing. They can include creating groups and programs that promote positive thinking, behaviors and healing; learning about bush tucker and bush medicine, which are alternate approaches to western food and medicine; and learning about and playing Aboriginal games.

Aboriginal seasons can also be an effective way to learn more about cultures and the environment from an Aboriginal perspective. Aboriginal seasons are important to Aboriginal people as it is a guide to what nature is doing at every stage of the year, as well as understanding respect for the land, which guides important fire burning and animal preservation.

Possible projects include:

  • the creation of a bush tucker garden, which could lead to the production of healthy foods using bush food ingredients and a sustainability study
  • healthy cooking lessons using traditional bush tucker food
  • a meditation or reflection space i.e. yarning circle
  • the regular involvement of an Aboriginal sports group at your school such as Garnduwa in the Kimberley or Nyoongar sports in the South West
  • a retreat using the Dadirri Reflection
  • a regular music or dance session (Girls’ Group or Boys’ Group)
  • participation in an ICEA Yarn Program
  • the inclusion of Aboriginal games as part of regular Physical Education classes
  • a virtual tour around Australia highlighting the key characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language groups
  • an e-Book introducing students to local Aboriginal culture
  • designing a t-shirt with an Aboriginal themed design that promotes reconciliation
  • an outdoor ‘yarning circle’ classroom
  • a morning wellbeing program teaching mindfulness.

Past examples of successful projects:

Girls Football Clinic, Northam Senior High School, 2018

The school ran a Girls Football and Wellbeing Program that encouraged students to organise events and speak in front of groups of people. The girls met with strong Aboriginal women to discuss culture and how to be deadly young women.

Students discussed the benefits of being active; understanding that playing sport is beneficial for both mental and social health.

Orientation Resources: iBook’s and Digital Resources, Presbyterian Ladies College, 2016

Two iBooks were created for the orientation of new students. One of these books is for new Aboriginal students starting at PLC and the second is a book for all students starting at PLC to introduce them to local Aboriginal culture and highlight what happens at school to support reconciliation.

Whadjuk Gift, Mater Dei College, 2018

Six schools came together to celebrate Whadjuk Country by designing t-shirts with Aboriginal artwork based on 17 Aboriginal nations, wearing them at an inter-school carnival. Schools joined together for a day of celebration and created a sense of community and inclusion. The event included a smoking ceremony, Welcome to Country and walk past the formerly established Eddie Mabo mural. Students now have a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture and have strengthened bonds within their local school communities.

History

History Category: Increasing staff and students’ knowledge of Aboriginal histories, including understanding significant Aboriginal people, places or events, is a great way to learn more about Aboriginal culture and communities. This can include exploring the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal people by establishing a research project; or understanding how historical events are relevant in a contemporary context in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation.

In achieving reconciliation, all Australians should recognise that Aboriginal people occupied the country and live according to sophisticated social and scientific systems well before colonisation. This knowledge is becoming increasingly accepted today but we still have a journey ahead of us. The treatment of Aboriginal people during and following colonisation outlines the darker aspects of Australia’s past and only through a greater understanding and education of this, can we walk forward together. This includes the struggles Aboriginal people have faced for basic human rights and access to health, education, housing, work, land, and recognition.

A PALS project is the perfect way for students to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements. For example, a PALS project focusing on the contribution of Aboriginal people to the Australian armed services in the 20th century provides a perfect way for integrating Aboriginal perspectives in the history curriculum and is made easy with excellent new resources from Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the Australian War Memorial.

Possible projects include:

  • creating a ‘Freedom Bus’, educating other students and families about the Freedom Rides in Australia in the 1960s
  • create a visual timeline around the school with information about events and people in the fight for Aboriginal rights
  • a performance to educate other students, families and community about aspects of Australian history that have previously excluded the Aboriginal stories of the time
  • research Aboriginal service men and women who provided a foundation to the Aboriginal Rights Movement in the 1930s
  • creation of a video or website to share information and thoughts about human rights, such as The Human Rights Project by the Community Arts Network
  • a study of speeches such as The Redfern Speech by Paul Keating, The National Apology by Kevin Rudd, the IQ2 Racism is Killing the Australian Dream speech by Stan Grant
  • a study of the poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal
  • a study of the NAIDOC posters and themes 1972-2020
  • a study of images such as Nicky Winmar pointing to his chest, Cathy Freeman running her victory lap with the Aboriginal flag, the first Australian and all-Aboriginal cricket team to visit England
  • a musical concert that tracks Australia’s history in song
  • an online resource to educate other students about the Stolen Generations
  • the creation of an artwork – mural, sculpture, sand art, mosaic - to commemorate the Stolen Generations as well as an additional classroom learning component
  • a reconciliation board game or online game to share information about the reconciliation moments in Australian history
  • a study of The Final Quarter documentary centered on past AFL footballer Adam Goodes
  • develop a critical reflection for the film The Australian Dream by exploring ideologies related to race, identity and belonging.

Past examples of successful projects:

Carrolup to Carnamah Virtual Roadshow, Carnamah District High School, 2018

Students participated in a virtual tour by the John Curtin Gallery where they were introduced to the Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork through a series of activities and learning resources. The artworks provide a glimpse of the dark history of the Stolen Generations. Through engaging with this collection, students began to understand the sadness of the past and were inspired to work together to achieve healing and reconciliation.

Discovery Walk: Six Seasons and Totems, Winthrop Primary School, 2019

The school developed a discovery walk focusing on the six Noongar seasons. Staff and students learned about significant Aboriginal people, places and events and the current context in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation. The interactive walk used QR codes to present participants with information about the six seasons and the flora and fauna relating to each.

Healing Community by Exploring the Past, Kojonup District High School, 2013

Year 9 students worked with the community to raise awareness about the Stolen Generations. The school approached this by viewing Rabbit Proof Fence, reading Glenys Ward’s Wandering Girl and The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan. To add reality to these stories, students attended an excursion to Marribank where they met and spoke with a former resident who gave them a detailed account of the experience of the children who were taken there. Students expanded the Noongar Meeting Place that was established as part of a previous PALS project, inviting the whole school community to the official opening to share what they had learned about the local history.

Language

Language Category: Increase awareness and appreciation of local Aboriginal languages and further explore culture through storytelling sessions, contemporary literature and written and visual resources. By collaborating with local Aboriginal families and communities your PALS project can exhibit the importance and diversity of Aboriginal languages within the school and broader community.

Language is connected to Country and culture so keeping language strong is keeping culture strong. The 2017 NAIDOC Week Theme — Our Languages Matter — emphasised the unique and essential role that Aboriginal languages play in both cultural identity, linking people to their land and water, and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song. PALS projects focusing on language help to preserve, revitalise and record Aboriginal languages for future generations. Learning the local Aboriginal language of your school area can be a PALS project in itself, or part of a project focusing on connecting to Country.

Possible projects include:

  • creating a picture book with the local Aboriginal language or Aboriginal English of your area
  • a daily/weekly quiz for other students focusing on words from the local language, Aboriginal English or Krio
  • accessing an electronic or online resource for learning the local Aboriginal language
  • a set of posters depicting some commonly used expressions in Aboriginal English or the local Aboriginal language
  • a video of students demonstrating scenarios in Standard Australian English and Aboriginal English
  • a performance of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in Noongar language (Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company workshops)
  • a treasure-hunt game using directions and numbers of steps in Aboriginal language to guide others to the ‘treasure’
  • an excursion highlighting Aboriginal place names
  • a visit by an Aboriginal Elder, or language speaker to teach language
  • developing a version of the school’s motto in the local Aboriginal language
  • dual name signage for buildings around the school
  • mapping the Aboriginal place names of your local area
  • learning nursery rhymes in your school’s local Aboriginal language
  • the creation of an Aboriginal language program that engages with local elders to teach languages in class
  • creation of an external mural using local Aboriginal words
  • creation of an outside language learning classroom which features local Aboriginal words
  • creating classroom language resources to be utilised in learning activities.

Past examples of successful projects

Languages, Baynton West Primary School, 2018

The school worked with families of Aboriginal students to identify the Aboriginal language groups in the school community. With resources purchased from PALS funding, the students worked with family members to translate common English words into the local Aboriginal languages. A PowerPoint was created as a resource that is available school-wide. The project has enabled the school to learn more about Aboriginal languages and was a vehicle for Aboriginal students to share pride in their culture.

Learning Noongar Through Music, Bibra Lake Primary School, 2018

Students collaborated with a local Noongar performer to learn and record three Noongar songs; Wanjoo, Djidi Djidi; Kulbardi; Kaat, Koomitj, Boomitj, Djen. They then used digital animation programs and worked with an animation artist to create music videos for their songs. These videos are now used as a resource to teach Noongar language. See the Learning Noongar Through Music video.

Tracks and Attacks Online Game, Gilmore College, 2017

Gilmore College established its own online game to teach Aboriginal Australian history in a creative and interactive way. There are a number of comprehension questions based on Aboriginal Australian history, in which players need to read information and answer each question correctly before moving ahead in the game. Drawings were provided by a local Aboriginal artist that recognised some of the animals and important places for Noongar people.

Recommended resources

It is advised that you utilise the below documents when developing your PALS project:

Connecting to Curriculum information resource

PALS Planning Sheet

The following department publications are also recommended historical resources for the PALS program. These resources aim to increase the understanding and awareness of events that have greatly contributed to the history of Western Australia. These histories that recognise Aboriginal people, places and stories local to this State, have largely gone unknown due to a myriad of factors, such as the impacts of colonisation.

These resources can be used in the development of PALS projects and for classroom learning more broadly:

Below are some other suggested resources. These are by no means exhaustive and it is encouraged to incorporate further material, and/or seek local perspectives or other local sources.

General resources

  • AIATSIS website: provides cultural and protocol advice and information, as well as many other resources relating to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as Ethical protocol guides on working with Indigenous Australians
  • Guidelines on engaging with Aboriginal businesses in WA
  • Learning and Teaching in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education; Third Edition, by Neil Harrison and Juanita Sellwood
  • The Little Red Yellow Black Book teacher resources: An introduction to Indigenous Australia; Fourth Edition, by AIATSIS
  • Welcome to Country: An introduction to our First peoples for young Australians, by Marcia Langton.

For information about who to contact in the way of WA Aboriginal community leaders, artists, cultural consultants in your area, contact one of the following Land Councils:

Arts

  • Aboriginal Art: World of Art, by Wally Caruana
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia, First Nations collection
  • Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley, by Carly Lane, Emilia Galatis and Stefano Carboni
  • Images of power: Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, by Judith Ryan, Kim Akerman
  • Japingka; Australian Aboriginal Art Education & Teacher Resources
  • Narragunnawali (Login or signup to access resources)
  • Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People, by Scott Cane
  • Spirit Country: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art, by Jennifer Isaacs
  • The New McCulloch Encyclopedia of Australian Art
  • What is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art? (Lesson Plan); National Gallery of Australia.

Community Relationships

Connecting to Country and Culture

Inclusive Environments

History

The following have collections and/or information relating to Aboriginal history

Languages

Suppliers

Magabala Books publishes works which have major Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or South Sea Islander involvement. This requires an Indigenous author, editor or illustrator.

Network Education is an online catalogue that contains a comprehensive selection of Indigenous resources in one catalogue.

Child Education Services Bookshop is a specialist children’s bookshop which stocks a comprehensive range of Aboriginal resources, including some published by the old Aboriginal Education Resource Unit (AERU). Download the Aboriginal Resources Catalogue.

Aboriginal Studies Press (ASP) is the Australian Institute of Aboriginal of Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS) publishing arm and Australia’s leading publisher of Australian Indigenous studies. Purchase the AIATSIS Map of Aboriginal Australia from here.

Black Ink Press Indigenous Publishing is an Indigenous community-based publishing venture based in North Queensland. It supports emerging writers and artists in order to create contemporary illustrated books especially for young Indigenous readers. It supports Australian Indigenous languages.

Fremantle Press is a small independent publishing house. Their Indigenous titles list is highly regarded at a national and international level.

Ronin Films has an extensive collection of documentaries & drama about Australian and Torres Strait Island societies, histories, politics and cultures, including many films by Indigenous filmmakers. Stories range across issues relating to health, identity, the Stolen Generations, art, anthropology, traditional life and culture, and history and archaeology.

ABC Commercial Library Sales is where you can purchase DVD copies of television programs broadcast on ABC Radio and ABC TV, including the popular program, Message Stick.

Manuta Tunapee Puggalugglia Publishing House publishes a wide range of books and products with a Tasmanian Aboriginal focus.

Yarn Strong Sista produce culturally inclusive resources for early childhood education.

This document contains information, opinions, data, and images (“the material”) prepared by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural industries (DLGSC). The material is subject to copyright under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), and it is owned by the State of Western Australia through the DLGSC.

DLGSC encourages the availability, dissemination and exchange of public information. Should you wish to deal with the material for any purpose, you must obtain permission from DLGSC. Any permission is granted on the condition that you include the copyright notice “©State of Western Australia through Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries” on all uses

To obtain such permission, please contact the Corporate Communications team at:

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
246 Vincent Street Leederville WA 6007
PO BOX 8349, Perth Business Centre WA 6849
Email info@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

Disclaimer

Whilst the information contained in this document has been formulated with all due care, the department does not accept any liability to any person for the information (or the use of such information) which is provided in this document or incorporated into it by reference. The information contained herein is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the document undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content.

Page reviewed 19 October 2020