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Old and new combine at Arnhem Land Culture Camp

Centuries of tradition and wisdom imparted by Arnhem Land elders to teenagers is at the heart of a new NT Government funded learning program designed to inspire re-engagement with education.

The Dhupuma Foundational Learning program has launched the first in a series of educational programs in north eastern Arnhem Land for young Aboriginal people aged 14 to 17 who have become disconnected from traditional school settings.

Territory Minister for Education, Eva Lawler, said the program, a partnership between Yothu Yindi Foundation and Department of Education, will deliver a unique curriculum for Yolngu students that combines cultural traditions with mainstream learning including literacy and numeracy.

“Every Territorian deserves the very best start in life and our government will always invest in education,” Ms Lawler said.

“This program promotes the development of strong young people, through the delivery of targeted training and learning programs based on community and cultural connections.”

“The Dhupuma Foundational Learning program has been developed with strong community support and is designed to engage our young people through purposeful and flexible learning experiences that motivate and challenge them.”

At the weekend, the first group of young people participated in the inaugural culture camp run by elders, a flexible learning approach Ms Lawler said offered greater opportunities for every child to re-engage with learning, grow and achieve their full potential.

YYF chairman and Gumatj leader Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu said the program was the culmination of many years of hard work by Yolngu leaders. Dhupuma means “looking up and ahead,” Dr Yunupingu said.

“Education is at the heart of everything we do, and the creation of a special program for education and culture in northeast Arnhem Land has been a vision of the YYF since its inception in the 1990s.

“It’s not designed to replicate or replace school, but rather to enable those who are disconnected from the traditional education environment to get the skills they need to succeed in life.”

Ms Lawler said investment in flexible learning was just one of an array of ways the Territory Government was supporting its diverse student population.

“We are investing $1.1 billion in education in Budget 2018. We are re-investing in education after the CLP Government slashed the budget and sacked teachers and frontline staff,” she said.

Media contact: Kim Stephens 0417 683 144

Arnhem teenagers at Culture Camp