Ngadju Kids on Country

Ngadju community of Coolgardie in conjunction with Millennium Kids Inc
September 2015 to June 2016

Initiated by Ngadju elders, community members and kids of Coolgardie in conjunction with Millennium Kids Inc, the Ngadju Kids on Country project engaged local children in Ngadju culture and language by re-establishing the tradition of on country learning, whilst providing training in leadership for ‘middle generation’ adults from the Ngadju community. The project culminated in the publication of an online and hard copy book incorporating Ngadju language, created by project participants to showcase their experiences and learning.

A team of Ngadju children and elders designed the project using Millennium Kids’ co design workshop model.  The project was based around the malleefowl, identified by the team as a significant local endangered species.  A series of on-country cultural trips took up to 40 Indigenous children out of town to various sites in the Great Western Woodland to learn about the malleefowl.  Elders worked with kids and a leadership trainee, teaching related Ngadju Dreaming stories, language and bush care skills. In addition, scientists taught malleefowl observations and mapping skills, enabling the project to provide vital information about malleefowl populations to Birdlife Australia and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

The project also focused on developing local capacity to self-manage community projects. Although a planned training course to provide adult trainees with a Certificate I in Leadership from TAFE was cancelled due to changed circumstances, MK focused on transferring skills to accompanying Ngadju adults during the trips.  This is preparing the community to independently initiate and lead future projects.

Elders of the local community believe this project has been a vital step in building respect for culture, reducing anti-social behaviour and strengthening the role of the family in caring for country.  Spending time on country with elders strengthens inter-generational relationships and connects children more profoundly with Ngadju country, culture and language.

The online and hard copy book showcases Ngadju culture and language and nurtures cultural pride amongst Ngadju children.  It also enables the project’s influence to continue into schools and the wider community, sharing knowledge and offering a rare local resource to schools, complying with new Australian Curriculum requirements.

Further outcomes include:

  • Awakened awareness of cultural identity among participants
  • Elders sharing basic Ngadju language with young people.  This introduction to language encouraged developing cultural familiarity for many previously unexposed children.
  • Important discussion around cultural authority for language
  • The project book has been well-received widely, including by Department of Parks and Wildlife, local schools, mining companies and the local Visitors Centre and Museum, which will sell the book on behalf of the community.
  • Several new corporate/mining supporters and partnerships: getting the project off the ground enabled its potential to be seen by other funders eg local mining companies and a resource management company. This additional support value-added to the project and gives potential funding sources for future projects
  • Growing local support for future Kids on Country projects: The Shire of Coolgardie are supportive of the community’s plans for future cultural projects. Local individuals have also expressed interest in becoming involved.
  • Kids on Country participants presented at the MK20 Unconference for Future Thinkers in Fremantle in 2016, including presentation of the project and ‘pitches’ for follow-on projects, demonstrating growing confidence, developing public speaking skills and expanding horizons.
  • Inaugural International Visitors Kids on Country Tour: a fee-for-service trip, run by the kids to showcase their country/culture to international visitors attending the MK20 Unconference.  The aim is to eventually be able to do this for WA school groups.
  • Improved Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations in Coolgardie as reported by a local elder.
  • Generation of several new follow-on projects proposed by the children participating in the project, including the upcoming Coolgardie Bluff rehabilitation project


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