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The School

Ballina High School in New South Wales, Australia, was established in 1956. This was the first high school in Ballina to be opened. It was announced in February 2015 that 7-12 students at Ballina High School and Southern Cross K-12 would combine to form the $40 million super school "Ballina Coast High School". New school and community facilities would be built on the existing Ballina High School site and would be completed to commence the 2019 school year. Southern Cross will continue to cater for students in years K to 6 and support units and will be the site for all distance education in Ballina. In 2017 demolition of Ballina High began and the remaining students in 8-12 were moved to the Southern Cross campus along with the first year of year 7 to begin the formation of Ballina Coast High School.

The Project

Developed by Gunai Poet, Kirli Saunders, Poetry in First Languages (PIFL), delivered by Red Room Poetry, celebrates, shares and preserves knowledge of First Nations languages and culture through poetry, music and art. PIFL seeks to support students to create poetry in First Languages by connecting them to First Nations Poets, Elders and Language Custodians on country through Red Room workshops. The underpinning focus is to strengthen the connection of First Nations students to country, language and community in order to empower them to feel pride in their cultural identities resulting in enhanced wellbeing.

This year PIFL Bundjalung will focus on connecting to Country and the responsibility we have as custodians to preserve the land and all creatures and species who live on the land. This iteration of PIFL aims to support students to create poetry about local species of flora and fauna, drawing on Bundjalung Language. Students will bring about awareness of endangered species and encourage change in the local environment and community. 

In April, this project will take students from Ballina High School on Country with Elders and Custodians, as well as poet Nick Paton. The workshops willeducate them in conservation practices and support students in learning about Bundjalung culture and land. Students will create poems in Bundjalung language to celebrate local flora and fauna, which will be published and performed meaningfully in the broader community.

The Poet