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Aboriginal students practise culture through writing

Students from across the Illawarra have used creative writing to express their voice in the lead-up to NAIDOC Week 2019.

Students at the inaugural Lake Illawarra South Network Aboriginal Writers Festival.

Students at the inaugural Lake Illawarra South Network Aboriginal Writers Festival.

Aboriginal students from Illawarra schools spent the day learning from literacy experts at the Lake Illawarra South Network Aboriginal Writers Festival on Friday.

The 60 students worked with local Aboriginal children’s author, poet and emerging playwright Kirli Saunders to develop their creative writing skills.

Ms Saunders founded the Poetry in First Languages project and was the Illawarra/Shoalhaven region ‘Worker of the Year’ at the 2017 NAIDOC awards. She is a proud Gunai woman with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people.

Students also learnt about public artworks from Shellharbour Library staff using a range of paintings and sculptures by Indigenous artists housed in the Shellharbour Civic Centre.

The festival was organised by local director, educational leadership, Raechel McCarthy, and principals from the Lake Illawarra South network, as part of ongoing programs to encourage Aboriginal students to express themselves through writing.

The students now have the opportunity to work with mentor teachers to plan a piece of creative writing, which will be submitted in late July for judging by a panel of local Elders.

NAIDOC Week 2019 is held from July 7-14 and focuses on the theme of Voice. Treaty. Truth.

Public schools across the state will take part in early celebrations this week to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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