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The School

Warilla North Public School is situated near the southern edge of Lake Illawarra. It is a small school that is strongly committed to improving the life opportunities of its students and is keen to provide a positive environment so that each child can achieve his or her potential. The curriculum presented gives emphasis to literacy, numeracy and student welfare in addition to sporting, artistic and strong values based learning experiences. The school motto 'Respect and Honour' is emphasised in the development of positive relationships to create a safe and happy learning environment.

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.

Returning to Dharawal Country this year, PIFL will take students on Country with Elders and Custodians, educate them in conservation practices and support students in learning about Dharawal culture and land. Students will create poems in Dharawal language to celebrate local flora and fauna, which will be published and performed meaningfully in the broader community.

In May, students from Warilla North Public School, Figtree Public School, Fairy Meadow Demonstration School, Port Kembla Public School, Dapto High School, and Figtree High School will be guided through the 2019 PIFL Dharawal resource with poets Nicole Smede and Ethan Bell along with Custodians Auntry Jodi Edwards and Aunty Trish Levett to compose poetry in Dharawal language, share stories, create artwork and learn about Dharawal culture, land and language. 

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.