A TOur tO the red centre

The Red Centre of Australia is equally known for its vast and beautiful landscapes as it is for its rich Aboriginal history and culture. During the July holiday period a group of 20 Year 11 boys led by the Head of Service Learning Mr Mick Madden and Chaplain Michael Bennett were lucky enough to embark on a seven day Service Learning tour to the Red Centre where they had the opportunity to immerse themselves in traditional Aboriginal culture.

Whilst this was the third Service Learning expedition taken by Newington students to visit Aboriginal communities around Australia, this was the College’s first visit to the desert country of Central Australia.

During the tour the boys camped out each night under clear but chilly desert skies. The tour’s bus driver and guide was an Aboriginal man called John Liddle who invited the boys to his remote family property where they got the chance to learn about traditional bush tucker, desert survival, navigation and animal tracking, from both John and his older brother “JS”. At night the boys hosted Aboriginal Elders from Mutitjulu near Uluru, who shared their knowledge of Aboriginal art, history and Dreamtime stories which were spellbindingly told around a campfire in traditional native language with the aid of a skilled translator. This was a rare privilege and experience that very few white Australians get to experience.

Tour highlights included an unscheduled AFL match between Newington boys and a group of young local boys from the Hermannsburg community, the awe inspiring sunrise observed from the remote Chamber’s Pillar in the Simpson Desert, the breath-taking beauty of our campsite in the riverbed of the ancient Fink River and the natural majesty of Kings Canyon.

Not only did the boys have a great time bonding with their fellow Newington mates, but they also had the chance to meet some remarkable and inspirational Indigenous people who taught them a great deal about Aboriginal culture, history and the current challenges faced by Indigenous Australians.

According to Samuel Yu the trip went above and beyond his expectations. He said that whilst there were so many wonderful opportunities, the most important part of the trip was, “getting to meet the humble Aboriginal leaders who were
willing to share their stories.”

Will Ryan learned a lot of new things about Indigenous culture that he never considered. “I never realised just how vast and rich the history and culture of Aboriginal people is,” he said. “The stories behind physical features, the food,
knowledge of the land and structure of Aboriginal society were all things which I was not aware of before the trip. Knowing these things now allows me to properly appreciate the true magnitude and depth of Indigenous Australia.”

The tour proved to be a real eye opener and a powerful learning experience that will be offered to Year 11 boys again in 2016 and beyond.

building bed for a bigger cause

Over the years Newington College has developed a strong relationship with Oasis Youth Support Network – the Salvation Army’s response to youth homelessness in Sydney’s inner city. Whilst Kelynack and Johnstone Houses have supported Oasis as their House charities, boys in Year 12 Construction have made use of their time in their TVET Construction course by manufacturing beds and donating them to the Oasis shelter in Surry Hills since 2009. This ongoing initiative reflects the unique opportunity for boys to meet academic goals while also giving back to the community by building something that has worth.

Youth homelessness is an issue that affects nearly 44,000 young people in Australia and Oasis works hard to provide a place of safety and care for young people who are in need of help. A spokesperson from Oasis said, “[Youth homelessness] is such an important topic, especially for school students who will often be the first point of contact for friends doing it tough at home.” According to Construction teacher and initiator of the Oasis bed project, Mr Cameron Quince, such a project has proven invaluable in raising the students’ awareness of youth homelessness.“Our boys gain a greater understanding of social justice and philanthropy by manufacturing beds that will be used by many young people over many years,” he said. “We are proud of the enthusiasm that our Year 12 boys have shown toward helping others, whilst also developing their own knowledge and carpentry skills.”

After the most recent lot of beds are handed over to Oasis, all beds since 2009 will have been proudly made by Newington boys. Year 12 student Teu Atiola was inspired by the Oasis story and said he was, “happy to know that the beds are going to people who need them.” Over the coming years the construction boys will look at new carpentry projects including building new wardrobes to update the old ones in the crisis centre. According to George Atiola, “Students who are interested in taking the construction course should go for it, because it will be a life changing experience.”

To learn more about Oasis and youth homelessness, visit their website at www.OASIS.com.au.


Stanmore 7–12 Service Learning The Black and White army were out in full force to raise awareness and funds during the annual Red Shield Appeal Door Knock on Sunday 29 May 2016. With over 330 boys from Years 10–12, 105 parent and staff drivers and representatives from the Salvation Army and Rotary, the day was truly a community effort. Together boys raised over $21,500 for the Salvation Army
which will go towards a number of services aimed at helping millions of Australians who might need assistance. Many thanks to the parents and staff who gave up their time to support the boys in this important initiative.