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  What Works - The Work Program

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Darlington Public School, New South Wales

The school drips red, black and yellow...

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From left: Colleen Hayward, AEA Norma Sides and teacher Janine Phillips

At Darlington Public School, located near Redfern in inner Sydney, children's projects and Aboriginal art and artefacts cover the walls.

There are land rights posters, murals, paintings, photographs of Aboriginal traditional life as well as of Aboriginal scientists, medical workers, doctors, lawyers, sports men and women, and teachers.

Only about a quarter of the children who attend are Aboriginal, but as Principal Colleen Hayward commented:


The school drips red, black and yellow... We say we are socially committed to Aboriginal studies and we are. We try to get Aboriginal perspectives into everything.


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Historical figures Windradyne, Pemulwuy, Truganini and Yagan

You have to keep working at it. If I took down the visual symbols of Aboriginality we could go back tomorrow to what we were. Not many people realise that. We have a very high level of commitment, but we have to demonstrate and show that commitment. Signs of it must be immediately visible.

We do it to recognise the children and where they've come from. We also do it to make sure that the parents who come in have very positive feelings about the school, and so that they will bring their friends and relatives along to look at the school.

We find that the kids will look around and they will find 'Aunty Mary' or 'Uncle Joe' from way back. It actually happened yesterday.

We've got a picture up on the wall of a famous Aboriginal boxer. And the man himself came to deliver something. He was here, and absolutely delighted.


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A prized poster celebrating the hand back of Uluru to its traditional owners and signed by their representatives

For the first time ever he had been recognised. And he came back a couple of hours later with one of his friends to have a look at his photograph on the wall. We feel that that is very important, especially so that we can become part of the local community.

The reaction of our non-Aboriginal parents is very positive. They come into the school and they see the artefacts, the artworks, all of the things that are up on the wall and they want their children to learn about Aboriginal culture.

That's why they come to this school and they are really positive. If they didn't like it they'd have to send their kids somewhere else. But they support it all the way through.

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