Since 2012, the Service Learning program at the College has collaborated with various Australian organisations to help foster partnerships between students and remote Indigenous Australian communities. These tours have been beneficial in preparing the boys to become the leaders of tomorrow by giving them the opportunity to connect with remote Indigenous Australia in a safe and meaningful way.
In 2012 and 2013, a small group of Newington boys accompanied by the Head of Service Learning, Mr Mick Madden, traveled to Buru, a remote Aboriginal Homeland located in the Daintree region of far North Queensland. The Indigenous communities that live in this region are very isolated and greatly affected by rain and flooding for most of the year making service to this area all but non-existent. Buru, however, is a place revered by the local Traditional Owners who encourage their people to visit the site to re-establish their spiritual connection with their Land. Whilst visiting Buru is a rare privilege that very few white Australians ever get the opportunity to experience, Newington has been lucky to visit the region multiple times.
Each time the boys visited Buru, they embarked on a different construction project for the Indigenous people in this area. In 2012, the boys built a new toilet facility and improved the outdoor food preparation facilities, whilst in 2013 the boys worked on a 1.5 km wire fencing project to help control the movements of wild unbranded cattle that graze unrestrained, often causing problems for the local Indigenous landowners. During the months leading up to their tour, the boys undertook fundraising efforts to raise money to cover the cost of the building materials required for their agreed upon project.
When not working on the building project, the students also got the opportunity to learn about traditional Aboriginal culture. Throughout the trip the Elders shared their culture with the students by visiting sacred places, telling old stories and welcoming them to the country with a traditional ceremony. The students also had the opportunity to meet to the younger boys at the local primary school and play sporting games with them.
In 2015 and 2016 during the July holiday period, a group of Year 11 Newington boys got the opportunity to travel to the Red Centre where they visited the mission town of Hermannsburg. While there, the touring party got the chance to meet the town’s local young people and elders, share their history, culture and the hand of friendship. While there the boys got to experience traditional Aboriginal culture through the stories and Dreaming places of the Elders. The community’s Elders have expressed great interest in teaching the young people about their culture – about its rich connection to the land and ongoing relevance to Aboriginal life. They want the leaders of tomorrow to experience Aboriginal culture and to know how important it is to their identity as Indigenous people.