Indigenous students connect with their cultural heritage in the outback, with support from Medibank
Sleeping under the stars, gathering bush tucker, visiting remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia… for 16 girls from Indigenous backgrounds receiving Yalari scholarships, the Year 9 Outback Camp provided an enriching opportunity to connect with their culture, strengthen their friendships, and build leadership skills.
Yalari is a not-for-profit organisation that provides secondary school scholarships for Indigenous children from remote, rural and regional communities. There are currently 180 Yalari scholarship students from 95 communities attending leading boarding schools around Australia. Through this program, Yalari strives to enrich students’ understanding of their culture and heritage, at the same time as giving them the chance to pursue an education that can lead to a wider range of opportunities for the future.
The Outback Camp
An emphasis on leadership and cultural pride is part of the Yalari approach. Each year, Year 9 students embark on an Outback Camp – run for boys and girls separately – to reconnect with each other and their heritage away from school.
The time spent away on the camp gives the participants a chance to reflect on their education and their culture, develop leadership skills, and spend time with other people with similar boarding school experiences.
This year’s girls’ camp took the students on journey from Uluru, on to Watarrka, through to the West MacDonnell Ranges and in to the Aboriginal community of Papunya, before finishing up in Alice Springs. The girls were encouraged to experience traditional ways of life, with activities including gathering bush foods like witchetty grubs and learning the traditional cooking styles of the Walpiri Elders north of Alice Springs.
“The camp plays such an important role in helping students reconnect,” says Jacqui Savage, Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor at Medibank, who joined the Yalari girls on the recent camp. “It is vitally important in maintaining and reinforcing the support, relationships and friendships the students have with each other. It was a great trip and I know the girls got a lot out of it.”
Support from the Medibank Community Fund
The Medibank Community Fund has supported Yalari since January 2011. “Medibank’s partnership with Yalari not only seeks to provide students with preventative health messages to encourage healthy living practices among Yalari students and their families, it is an investment in a future of better health,” Jacqui says.
“Yalari aims to both enrich students’ understanding of their culture and heritage, and provide new directions for the future, and Medibank hopes that future Yalari graduates might emerge from their educational journeys to take up prominent roles in the health sector.”
As well as supporting the Outback Camps and Annual Gala fundraising dinners, Medibank has joined Yalari scholarship students in the 100-kilometre Commemorative Walk to Cherbourg, tracing the journey taken by Aboriginal people in the early 1900s.