New students in CVGT Australia’s Indigenous School-Based Apprenticeship Training (SBAT) program marked the start of their course at a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony in Yapeen last week.
Dja Dja Wurrung elder Uncle Rick Nelson performed the smoking ceremony that was also attended by program graduates, and representatives from host organisations and CVGT Australia.
Uncle Rick, who works to protect local Aboriginal sites and maintain Dja Dja Wurrung culture, showed the new students heritage sites around Yapeen and Guilford and explained their significance.
Nine students from Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Castlemaine Secondary College are taking part in the two-year program specifically designed to connect Indigenous students with employers, and enhance their knowledge of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
The students will be placed with a host organisation one day a week and supported and mentored by staff and the community. The cultural aspect of the course will be delivered by Nalderun, an organisation that supports the Aboriginal community and is led by Aboriginal people. Indigenous SBAT program graduates will also support and mentor the new students.
Host organisations include Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, Coliban Water and CVGT Australia.
Bendigo Senior Secondary College student Sophie said she was looking forward to participating in the program. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to become closer to my culture, and learn about community and the environment,” said Sophie.
CVGT Australia Indigenous Communities Liaison Officer Rhonda Penney said it was significant that the launch of the Indigenous SBAT program was happening at the start of National Reconciliation Week.
“The theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is ‘More than a word. Reconciliation takes action’, which urges us all to take braver and more impactful action to achieve reconciliation.
“Our Indigenous SBAT program contributes to reconciliation by helping to build connections between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“It also further connects indigenous students with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures,” said Ms Penney.
CVGT Australia Managing Director Jason Russell said the Indigenous SBAT program has had a significant impact on participants, host organisations and the wider community.
“One of our four strategic directions from our Strategic Plan 2020-2025 is ‘Connected and resilient communities’.
“Last year we made our Reconciliation – Statement of Intent and we are working with Reconciliation Australia to develop our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Our RAP will inform our plans for the future and elevate the voices and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“We are committed to building economic and social inclusion for our communities and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to co-design approaches and programs that support closing the employment gap,” said Mr Russell.
To find our more about our SBAT program call us on 132 848.