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The School

Figtree Primary School is situated in the suburb of Figtree close to the centre of Wollongong. The school has a distinctive family climate and prides itself on having very positive relationships between children, parents and staff. A very supportive and active P&C brings on average over seventeen parents to each P&C Meeting. The school's core values of Respect, Safety and Learning are strongly aligned to the school motto 'Caring, Sharing, Learning Together'. 

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

Nicole Smede

Born on Dharawal country, Nicole’s descendants are Worimi, English, Irish and German.

Nicole is a classically trained vocalist, musician and graduate of the Conservatorium of Music, Sydney with experience ranging from classical, theatre, rock and contemporary music through to film and other media.   

Her voice has been heard on national youth broadcaster Triple J as well as globally on APRA Award-winning film scores. 

Drawing from varied experience in Education, having worked with the NSW Arts Unit, The Song Company and Bundanon Trust, Nicole is excited to be working with Elders and Language Custodians to support the reconnection and continued growth of First Languages.