A unique indigenous program that has increased enrolments and attendance at Warrnambool Primary School has won a Victorian Education Excellence Award.
Since 2011, the school has grown from having 11 Koorie kids enrolled to 44 this year.
The indigenous children’s attendance rate has also increased from 70 per cent in 2011 to 92 per cent in 2016.
Much of this success can be attributed to the school’s Changing the tide@Jamo – Koorie inclusion program, which was recognised at a ceremony in Melbourne last week.
Teacher Jacqui Gore devised the program, seeing a need for more Aboriginal curriculum and greater cultural awareness.
It began by building relationships with indigenous parents and the community. A curriculum was developed and included lessons on art, dance, the stolen generation, languages and storytelling. It is taught to all students, which is the program's point of difference.
Local indigenous artist Tracy Roach, Koorie education officer Robbie Lowe and Aboriginal elder Rob Lowe have been instrumental in the program.
Ian Clark, 9, and Jaynaya Miller, 12, are proud to be Aboriginal at the school.
It’s a change from a few years ago when Miss Gore said some of the Koorie students hid their culture from others.
“I get to show off that I am Aboriginal and we get to do awesome things,” Ian said.
Jaynaya said her classmates had a better understanding of culture and embraced diversity.
Miss Gore also won the the Outstanding Primary Teacher Award and the prestigious Lindsay Thompson Award, which she said was a huge honour.
“(Education Minister) James Merlino said we made history (winning the three awards) and said my work and my application stood out,” Miss Gore said.
“It was different to anything he’d seen because it was focused on the whole child, student well-being and thinking to the future.
“I couldn’t have done or achieved what I have without the support network.”