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Culture empowering students

That sound you can hear through your monitor, is the sound of Bobby’s heart rate hitting 163 beats per minute. Little did Bob know, as he woke up on the 17th of May, that a few hours later students from the support unit at Fernhill School would thrust a Yidaki (didgeridoo) in front of him, asking him to deliver a performance that would make the late James Brown proud.  

Although an expert spear thrower (ask him about the woomera story), the Yidaki is something Bob has yet to master. Nevertheless, not wanting to disappoint the students, he stepped up to the challenge and created unique sounds that have never before been heard in the history of humanity.

The students clapped. The teachers looked bewildered. And Jared and Dean’s facial expressions ranged from respect for his bravery, to sympathy for his limited musical prowess. Whatever emotion individuals evoked, all were grateful for Bob taking the time to deliver the Ngiyani program to the school.

The Ngiyani workshop focuses on Aboriginal culture and post-school transition skills. Bob, Dean & Jared showcased a collection of Aboriginal artefacts, each with its own story and significance. They demonstrated the use of the bullroarer, an ancient instrument used in ceremonies to communicate over long distances. The students listened in awe as the low, humming sound filled the air.


The students were also introduced to the coolamon, a versatile wooden vessel traditionally used for carrying water, fruits, nuts, and even babies. Bob explained how the coolamon is crafted from the bark of a tree, illustrating the deep relationship between the Aboriginal people and their natural environment.


The spear and boomerang were next, with Bob demonstrating their traditional uses in hunting and as tools of survival. He passed around a beautifully crafted boomerang, allowing students to feel the weight and design of this iconic artefact.


The workshop was not just about imparting knowledge but also about empowerment. Bob and Dean tailored their presentations to highlight the intersection between cultural and professional development. They underscored the importance of staying connected to one's culture while also embracing new opportunities. This dual focus aimed to equip students with the confidence and skills needed to thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

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