Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Raukkan Aboriginal School

The Hon. T.T. NGO (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the minister tell the council about his recent visit to the Raukkan Aboriginal School?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:02): I thank the honourable member for his question. I will be more than happy to inform the honourable member of the recent visit to Raukkan school, and I thank the honourable member for his interest in this matter. I know, as the former Chair of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, he has had a longstanding, keen interest. I know members of that committee have in years gone by visited the Raukkan Aboriginal community.

I had the privilege in the last couple of weeks to attend the Raukkan Aboriginal School, located about two hours south-east of Adelaide. The establishment of the Raukkan Aboriginal School is intertwined with the broader historical narrative of Aboriginal education and missionary efforts in Australia. Raukkan school has a rich history and was built originally by Ngarrindjeri people with George Taplin during 1859 and 1860. In 1886, the school was assumed by German Lutheran missionary pastor August Kavel under the name Point McLeay Native School. Pastor Kavel aimed to provide education and religious instruction to the Ngarrindjeri people.

The school's early years were marked by the challenges inherent in bridging cultural differences and establishing effective communication. As the 20th century unfolded, the school underwent significant transformations. In 1916, control of the school was transferred from the Lutheran Church to the state government. This shift marked a turning point in the administration and funding of Aboriginal education. The school continued to evolve, adapting to challenges in educational policies and practices over the decades. In the 1980s, the school was renamed Raukkan Aboriginal School to reflect a desire to connect with the Ngarrindjeri language and cultural identity.

Throughout its history, Raukkan Aboriginal School has faced challenges, including issues relating to funding, cultural preservation and the broader context of Aboriginal education in Australia. The school's commitment to preserving and promoting Ngarrindjeri culture is evidenced in its curriculum, which incorporates traditional knowledge alongside standard academic subjects.

This was clearly demonstrated to me by four young students of the school: Brooklyn, Jeffrey, Shakaya and River, all of whom are in years 5 and 6. These students apparently led the tour of their school and highlighted cultural practices incorporated into everyday schooling, including art and the growing of native foods on the school premises.

The relationship between the school and the local community is integral to its success. Collaborative efforts between the school and community members have led to the development of programs and initiatives that reflect the unique cultural context of Raukkan. These collaborations extend beyond the classroom, fostering approaches to education that encompass cultural, social and emotional wellbeing.

In recent years, Raukkan Aboriginal School has had a number of successes in Aboriginal education, showcasing the importance of incorporating these cultural elements into the curriculum. The school's success stories include students who have gone on to pursue higher education and contribute more broadly to their communities.

I would like to congratulate the work of Principal Cheryl Bawden, Helen Forrest and Debra Long for all the hard work they do at Raukkan school, and acknowledge the commitment of the students I spent time with and the achievements of Brooklyn, Jeffrey, Shakara and River.