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 Indigenous Education

We would like to acknowledge the Wakka Wakka people who are the traditional custodians of this land upon which Saint Mary's College is built. We would also like to pay respect to Elders both past and present of the Wakka Wakka nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people present in our community. 

Saint Mary’s has a long history of educating Indigenous students and of working with the Elders and families from Cherbourg and other communities. We are committed to improving the educational outcomes of all our students.
 
Our College’s Indigenous education department is staffed by a teacher, support worker and teacher aide with additional support from the VET and the Inclusive Education departments and the College’s Wellbeing team.

Saint Mary’s Indigenous Education department works with our Indigenous students to:
• improve their literacy and numeracy skills
• improve their retention rates
• foster stronger relationships with community
• develop a deeper understanding of culture and
• find meaningful post school pathways including work, traineeships, apprenticeships and university studies.
 
Each year, we celebrate NAIDOC and Reconciliation weeks, and ANZAC day marches and participate in many events including cultural dance and camps. 

Our graduating senior students attend the Brisbane Catholic Education ceremony at St Stephen’s Cathedral each November. The College also holds a Certificate presentation ceremony in Cherbourg for all Indigenous students who complete their schooling year.
Each semester, we have family BBQs and gatherings with our Indigenous students and their families, Elders and staff at the Cherbourg community.
 
It is the aim of the Indigenous Education Department to have our Indigenous students graduate with a QCE, or a traineeship or apprenticeship, or to be able to go onto further study or be work ready. Some of our former students have followed pathways into medicine, nursing, business, finance, childcare, administration, agriculture, teaching and sport.

Bunya Dreaming Garden

A significant sacred space was designed and created at Saint Mary's Bunya Dreaming Garden. The Sacred Space Committee has worked for many years along with the students to produce a garden that signified the importance of embedding Indigenous Perspectives for students in our school. Our garden is a permanent reminder that sparks interest, stimulates awareness and generates strong cultural awareness within our school community. The garden is located high on the hill to visually capture the view south towards the Bunya Mountains. In the centre is a contemporary Indigenous decorated cross designed by local Indigenous artist Niketa Law. The sacred space also includes a dry creek bed in the shape of 'Karbul' the Carpet Snake which is a Wakka Wakka totem. Two bottle trees have also been planted to represent the Wakka Wakka people and our neighbours the Gubbi Gubbi people on our eastern boundary. Timber round posts have also been incorporated in the design which carved our walking tracks. The small pebbles painted by students represent the various language groups located in the Brisbane Catholic  Archdiocese that once walked to the Bunya Nut Festival. The central piece of the garden is a cement circle representing a place to gather and meet. This space has been painted beautifully by the Stewart family. The painted circle tells the story of "Bunya Dreaming" and the various groups of people who once visited the Bunya Nut Festivals in years gone by. It also includes Corroboree men, local animals gathered around a dot formation symbolising the Bunya Mountains. The Stewart family kindly donated the paints, their time and not to mention their natural artistic talents.