WOOD-fired damper was the tasty delight that brought people together and helped commemorate Reconciliation Week at North Coast TAFE’s Great Lakes Campus last week.
Recently building and construction students installed the wood-fired oven outside the campus’ aboriginal meeting place under the direction of teacher, Dave Seaman and campus manager Neil Hopkins.
But it was the skill of the indigenous cooks which had everyone talking and mingling during Reconciliation Week.
Indigenous students from the Diploma in Graphic Design, including Pauline Grothkopp of Nabiac, Cheryl Heinkkanen of Forster, and Worimi elder Lyn Davis, of Forster, showed their skills in fire building, cooking the damper to perfection, with participation from aboriginal learning liaison officer, Robyn Roberts.
Reconciliation Week runs from May 27 to June 3 and specifically commemorates the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum for the aboriginal vote and the 1992 High Court Mabo decision.
Director of North Coast TAFE, Elizabeth McGregor, says that Reconciliation Week provides everyone with an ideal opportunity to reflect on the reconciliation journey for all Australians, and on progress in ‘closing the gap’ on the north coast.
“We know that education is incredibly important in helping close the gap. It’s equally powerful as a way to share cultures, and to help achieve reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians,” says Ms McGregor.
Ms McGregor says that North Coast TAFE’s Reconciliation Action Plan identified some ambitious goals for closing the gap in educational outcomes between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.
“We have begun to see some significantly positive results – for example, the proportion of working age aboriginal people participating in education has increased by 50 per cent since 2008, and we have seen a similar increase since 2008 in completions in qualifications of Certificate III and above,” says Ms McGregor.
“In fact, there’s been 72 per cent increase in completions in diploma courses by aboriginal learners over the past four years.
“Just as important is the fact that we have had some very successful employment outcomes locally, largely due to collaborative partnerships with many of the bigger employers here on the North Coast,” added Ms McGregor.
Ms McGregor also signalled greater engagement by North Coast TAFE staff in collaborative activities, particularly in educational programs and on-campus events.
“We have seen widespread practice of both welcome to and acknowledgment of country, installation of aboriginal cultural signage and artworks, and marking significant dates in the reconciliation calendar.”