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Monday, 11 Dec 2023

Tjindu cultural exchange and immersion experience

Tjindu cultural exchange and immersion experience

In May 2023, students from the Tjindu Aboriginal AFL Academy in Adelaide travelled to Melbourne for Sir Doug Nicholls Round, The Long Walk, Dreamtime at the MCG and a cultural immersion experience with St Kilda Football Club.

‘Before our game we had a big cultural exchange out in the middle of the oval where we had a Smoking Ceremony and we also exchanged gifts between Tjindu and St Skilda’s NGA players,’ said Tjindu student, Jackson Coaby.

As part of this year’s excursion, Tjindu students also participated in an immersive experience at the North Melbourne Football Club and led The Long Walk behind Michael Long onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the Dreamtime at the ‘G clash between Essendon and Richmond.

The trip to Melbourne is a used as an incentive for student’s school attendance and the overall program works towards completion of their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) units to achieve their High School certificate.

Each year, Tjindu Foundation selects through an application and trials process a squad of 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior school students (30 boys and 30 girls) into the Academy where they attend the program that combines education, culture, football and fitness/ strength and conditioning training one day a week during the school term at Tjindu Headquarters.

‘We all came into the Academy with the shared bond of football and then that's how we get immersed within our different cultures because we come from all around Australia but attend school here in South Australia,’ said Tjindu student, Jordan Horne.

Students additionally complete program content like journaling and resilience training, to capture aspirations and pathways to careers, and empower students with life skills in knowing how to handle things like racism.

‘Coming to that program every Wednesday gives us more confidence and leadership capabilities to take back to our home school,’ said Jackson.

Tjindu staff are First Nations role models and many are past athletes and respected Elders. Tjindu General Manager, Kellie Graves, is a proud Ngarrindjeri and Narungga woman who leads the day-to-day operations of Tjindu.

‘We believe we can close the gap through educating these young people, getting them through school so that they can go on to long term employment or tertiary education which in turn minimises the gap,’ Kellie said.

Tjindu continues to support students after they complete their studies by connecting them with opportunities for additional learning or work experience, career advice and help with resumes.

‘Coming to Tjindu makes school such an inclusive environment. Seeing all the job opportunities makes me want to finish year 12 and go onto bigger and brighter things after,’ said Tjindu student, Tamsyn Nation.

‘My Nana always talks about how she didn't have opportunities. She really makes us grab hold of the ones we do get given to make it easier for us,’ said Tjindu student, Mackayla Harrison.

Funding for Tjindu from the Australian Government contributes to Closing the Gap targets in education by supporting First Nations students to obtain their High School certificate in a supportive and culturally sensitive environment.

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