Shelters for learning celebrated

Building design and construction techniques dating back 40,000 years have largely been used in creating shelters of cultural significance to Nhulunbuy High School students.

The six-week project, part of the school’s Social and Emotional Learning program, has involved a significant investment by students and members of the Raypirri Rom Wellbeing Program at Miwatj Health.

Principal Sabina Smith said the simple open air shelters reflect traditional uses, such as those customarily used for storytelling, or specifically reserved for males and females.

“in Yolngu society the Dhäwu’wu Buṉbu is the library, a place where stories are told, Goŋ-Gaḻpu is for boys assuming adult responsibilities, and the Goŋ-Wapitja is for mature girls,” she said.

“These are learning areas available for any teaching purposes; the learning activities are not prescribed.

“The boys built the shelters, the girls learnt the Yolngu language and about kinship, and all the students were taught the Bunggul, or customary dance.

“The Yolngu elders from the Raypirri team worked with the school’s staff, and students from years 7 to 10, in designing the shelters.

“The Raypirri team attracted other key community members for the official opening, including the Dhimirru rangers and the Rirratjingu clan leaders, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which the school is built.”

The shelters were unveiled at a ceremony on 23 June 2016.

Students sitting in learning shelter