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The School

Figtree High School is a vibrant, fully comprehensive school in Wollongong. The student population reflects a culturally diverse school community, including 194 students from a non–English speaking background and 51 Aboriginal students. The school is held in high regard by both the local and wider community for offering a broad ranging curriculum and achieving high quality educational outcomes for students from Year 7 to Year 12. The school's systems and practices are based on the Positive Behaviour for Learning framework. Our diverse student population includes an on–site physical disabilities class, an autism class and an off–site behaviour unit, the Flametree Campus.

The Project

Developed by Gunai poet Kirli Saunders and delivered by Red Room Poetry, Poetry in First Languages (PIFL) celebrates, shares and preserves knowledge of First Nations languages and culture through poetry, music and art.

On May 7 and 8 in partnership with Mettigong Theatre and Wollongong Art Gallery, First Nations students from Years 3-11 at Figtree Primary School, Fairy Meadow Demonstration School, Warilla North Public School, Port Kembla Public School, Dapto High school, Figtree High School and Oak Flats High School came together for the Poetry in First Languages, Dharawal programs.

With the guidance of Dharawal based poet and musician, Nicole Smede, and Dharawal based Ngunawal Poet, Ethan Bell,  Gundungurra Custodian Aunty Trish and Gumea Dharawal language custodian, Jacob Morris, the students connected to country through language, story and art to create poetry in Dharawal language. These poems were interpreted into artworks and will be performed in the local area at community events. 

PIFL Dharawal will also return in October in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, NASCA, and the Art Gallery of NSW.

The Poet

Ethan Bell

Ethan is a Wallabalooa man from the Ngunawal Nation. He is an emerging artist and student based in Campbelltown, Sydney. 
Ethan's practice is storytelling, drawing from his love of hip-hop. Ethan writes poetry in hopes to give insight into his life.