Every Friday, our Koorie students meet as part of their Black n Deadly Group to discuss ways to build and strengthen Aboriginal cultural awareness, bonds and mentorship at William Ruthven Secondary College. 

Along with our Koorie Engagement Support Officer, Barry Firebrace-Briggs, the students have so far been responsible for organising an acknowledgement of country plaque displayed at the front of our school and have many other plans in the works. 

On Friday 17 March, our Black n Deadly group, accompanied by Barry, Bec Norton (our Mental Health Practitioner) and classroom teacher Miss Hartley, visited the Koorie Heritage Trust in Federation Square on a cultural excursion. 

Here the students engaged with a range of cultural artefacts at the Trust, from weapons, to garments, to musical instruments, hearing the stories of each object from our extremely knowledgeable tour guide, Lucas. 

Next, we embarked on a guided tour along Birrarung Marr, stopping at different points to hear the Aboriginal history connected to the area. Lucas told us the stories of important Aboriginal figures, such as William Barak, and the students were encouraged to look at the city through new eyes. 

The tour continued all the way to the MCG. In the shady park surrounding the famous cricket ground, Lucas introduced us to a much older, and far more sacred landmark – the Scar Tree.

Aboriginal Scar Trees can be found all over Victoria, and are named for the scars in their bark left by the traditional practice of removing bark to make objects such as weapons and canoes. We learned about the incredible process of bark removal, in which skilled Aboriginal people would insert increasingly larger stones between the bark and tree to slowly coax the bark away from the trunk. 

The Scar Trees that surround the MCG are up to 800 years old. 

The knowledge we gained from this excursion was invaluable, but the best part was seeing the bonds forming within our Koorie student community between students from different year levels and friendship groups. 

We hope to hold more cultural events and excursions with our Black n Deadly group to continue to build these relationships and sense of cultural connection. 


A creative passage inspired by the excursion
By Lara (9C)

From the familiarity of our everyday classes, with the sun to beam down from above our heads and to cast shadows down onto the grass and the concrete. We made our way to the train station, for a day ahead of us. One to be filled with conversations about the people before us, a trip to the past. A look into what our ancestors valued and held sacred, from the tools and weaponry used to hunt for food, to the relations of the land around us. A walk into what we see now and look back on what they mean to us and to the people before us.

We’re walking with these open minds, we’re learning and being a part of a community. This was just one of the days with many to come, that we all shared some really memorable moments and ones where many of us shared in laughter. With the City to contrast behind us, to learn about and view some beautiful creations. Cloaks made with the fur of many possums and the stories they told, with the feathers of emus to the paintings that told experiences and connections to this land.

We’re all extremely thankful.