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The School

Cabbage Tree Island Public School is a unique school located at the eastern end of Cabbage Tree Island Aboriginal community. The school has a total enrolment of approximately 40 Aboriginal students, from pre-school age to Year 6. Cabbage Tree Island is located 22km south of Ballina. The school is isolated to services although Jali Health Services and Bunjum Co-operative are located on the island and provide community services on specific days of the week.

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 Cabbage Tree Island Public School on Country with Elders and Custodians, as well as poet Nick Paton. The workshops will educate 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