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The School

Berrima Public School was one of the first schools established in the Southern Highlands.
Berrima Public School promotes creative and sporting endeavours as students have many opportunities to become involved in music programs, enrichment activities, sporting teams and interschool events in these areas.Students attending Berrima Public School have the opportunity to learn in our beautiful outdoor environment as well as in the classroom. 

The Project

In its second year, Poetry in First Languages - Gundungurra focuses on connecting to Country through a conservation project in partnership with Wingecarribee Shire Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Glossies in the Mist. This iteration of Poetry in First Languages aims to support students to create poetry about the Glossy Black Cockatoo and other local species, drawing on Gundungurra Language. Students helped bring about awareness of this endangered species and encourage change in the local environment and community. This project took students on Country with Elders and Custodians, educated them in conservation practices and support students in learning about Gundungurra culture and land. Students created poems in Gundungurra language to celebrate local flora and fauna, which will be published and performed meaningfully in the broader community.

Read the student poems here!

In March, following the cultural experience Gunai poet Kirli Saunders guided students from Berrima Public School, Bowral High School, Bowral Public School, Moss Vale High School, St Pauls Primary School and Aurora Southern Highlands Steiner School through the new resource, specific to Gundungurra Country with Aunty Trish Levett. Students were connected to First Nations Poets, Elders and Language Custodians on Country, strengthening the connection of First Nations students to Country, language and community to empower students to feel pride in their cultural identities.
In the southern regions of Gundungurra country, crossing the Nattai, Wollondilly and Paddy’s Rivers, there is only one remaining native vegetation corridor, between Bullio and Bungonia. Little is currently known about the local population of glossies in this area. Do they successfully breed in the corridor each year? Are they vulnerable to pests or other predators? Can the current landscape sustain their unique feeding behaviour?

With the help of citizen scientists, the Glossies in the Mist project aims to answer some of these questions, and through the mapping of key habitat resources such as important feed and hollow bearing trees, the project hopes to secure foraging and breeding habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo into the future.
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 Graeme Wood Foundation, Oranges and Sardines Foundation, Copyright Agency, and generous individuals.

On Gundungurra country, PIFL is also supported by Wingecarribee Shire Council, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and Elders and Custodians, Aunty Sharyn Hall, Aunty Trish Levett and Jacob Morris. 

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

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 leads Poetry in First Languages, delivered by Red Room Poetry. 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.

 

Reflections

Taking a dream from conception to delivery – Poetry in First Languages – Kirli Saunders