Kemblawarra Public School
Poetry in First Languages, 2018
Kemblawarra Public School is a Restorative school and all of its discipline and welfare strategies from Preschool to Year 6 are based on a restorative approach. The staff work closely with parents to help children develop a sense of community and individual responsibility.
Throughout the school there are many examples of formal, as well as informal activities designed to build social capital and achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision making.
Children are encouraged to identify the positive things about the school and to be proud of being part of the school community. All children, including those in Preschool, are encouraged to wear school uniform, attend school regularly and to demonstrate commitment to the School Values. Every child's achievements are continually recognised and regularly celebrated in front of their peers and the whole school community.
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.
Over two days (14-15 May) Kirli Saunders and Koori poet Lyndsay Urquhart took students of First Nations and Refugee Backgrounds from Kemblawarra Public School through the new resource, specific to Dharawal Country. Students were connected to First Nations Poets, Elders and Language Custodians on Country, strengthening the connection students to Country, Language and Community to empower students to feel pride in their cultural identities. Students were encouraged to create poetry in Dharawal as well as in their own First Languages. The second day focused on art with Gundungurra Elder Aunty Trish Levett and dance with Lyndsay Urquhart.
Poetry in First Languages is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australian National Commission for UNESCO of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is proudly supported by Geoff Ainsworth AM & Johanna Featherstone, Copyright Agency and generous individuals.
On Dharawal Country, PIFL is also supported by participants in Graeme Wood Foundation, Illawarra Multicultural Services, Merrigong Theatre Company, Wollongong Art Gallery, First Languages Australia, Miromaa and AIME.
Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and an award-winning international Children’s Author and Poet as well as a Teacher, and emerging Artist. She created and led Red Room Poetry's Poetry in First Languages program from its conception until July 2020. Her debut picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards and CBCA notables. Her poetry collection, Kindred was shortlisted for the ABIA 2020 Book Awards and FAB Booktopia Awards. She is the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award and University of Canberra ATSI Poetry prize (2019). She is an esteemed judge for the Val Vallis Poetry Prize. Kirli is the 2020 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.