NASCA Kids Thrive With Access to Culture

14 August 2017Uncategorized

“Aboriginal People’s connection, your intimate connection, to the land and sea are deep, abiding, ancient, and yet modern. This news is a point of great pride for our nation. We rejoice in it, as we celebrate your Indigenous cultures and heritage as our culture and heritage – uniquely Australian” – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, August 2017 Garma Address.

Indigenous Australian cultures are diverse, constantly changing and are a source of strength and healing. As Andrew Jackamos said “Culture is not a perk for Aboriginal children – it is a lifeline.” Culture and identity is at the heart of NASCA’s work with Aboriginal young people. For our kids living in urban communities in Sydney it is vital for them to connect with their culture to help them hold strong onto their Aboriginal identity. Across all our educational programs we place culture at the centre of our work.


This term NASCA is working with Red Room Poetry. The kids involved will be taught words and phrases from distinct Aboriginal languages from New South Wales – including Wiradjuri (Western NSW), Gamilaroi (North Western NSW), Ngiyampaa (Central Western NSW), Yuin (South Coast) and Sydney Languages. Inspired by poets Lorna Munro and Eric Avery, Yala Gari (Speak the Truth) is a language program that empowers students from Redfern and Sydney City communities to create, perform and publish poetry that celebrates first nation cultures and languages.  We know that there is a strong correlation between Indigenous young people learning their language and higher educational, employment and training outcomes and lower engagement with high risk and antisocial behaviours. We are thrilled to be working with Red Room Poetry and know that our students will benefit immensely.

Traditional Indigenous Games

Traditional Indigenous games have been played for thousands of years in Australia.  At NASCA we combine culture with the fun of sport to engage our kids.

In early September we will be running the NASCA Olympics at Western Sydney University.

Traditional Indigenous Games (TIG) will be played competitively between kids in our South Sydney and Western Sydney Programs. With close to 100 kids, games like Buroinjin (SE Queensland) and Arrkene Irreme (Central Australia) will be played.  The most famous TIG is of course, Marngrook, developed into what is commonly played today as AFL.  

Amy Sarandopoulos, Western Sydney Program Manager says “This event is designed to create a positive space for students to learn about and participate in cultural activities. NASCA’s students will be able to engage with other Aboriginal young people from different schools building vital friendship and peer networks. The development of teamwork, communication and leadership skills, essential life skills will be achieved.”  With parents, teachers and community members gearing up to cheer our kids on at the event, it is shaping up to be one of the many NASCA highlights for this year.

NASCA students playing TIGS at Marrickville High

NAIDOC Celebrations

At NASCA we take every opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal cultures, in the classroom, on the sporting field and through special events.  NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.

We celebrated NAIDOC week in both Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD and Redfern at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Next month, we will be joining the Dubbo NAIDOC celebrations.   

These events allow us to get into community and meet new people who are interested in our work.  We also get kids from different backgrounds involved in cultural activities including beading, painting and playing Traditional Indigenous Games. The theme of NAIDOC Week this year was ‘Our Languages Matter’ and NASCA is proud to be currently incorporating ‘Language’ into our delivery of programs at Alexandria Park Community School, Sydney with other schools to follow in 2018.

Thank you to everyone who donated to NASCA, purchased our merch and cookbooks during NAIDOC Week. This helped to raise much needed funds for our cultural programs in 2017.  

To continue our cultural education for our urban-based students, NASCA  needs your support.  If you would like to donate, please click here.

Garma Festival

Australian Indigenous cultures are vast in their diversity.  NASCA enables students to explore not only their own identities but also Aboriginal cultures from across Australia.  The Garma Festival is considered Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal cultural festival and is run by the the Yothu Yindi Foundation each year on Yolngu Country in North East Arnhem Land.  Beyond being a showcase of culture it also brings together business leaders, international political leaders, intellectuals, academics and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing Australia.

This month 12 of our kids recently attended the prestigious festival. They were exposed to the culture of the Yolngu and met other Indigenous groups sharing their culture as part of the annual celebration. The event was in its 19th year and has evolved a lot in this time and is now attended by a number of dignitaries, celebrities and even the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Photo Courtesy of Yothu Yindi Foundation

NASCA kids were deeply inspired by the cultural aspect of the event – the language, dance, storytelling and rituals that have sustained the Yolngu for at least 65,000 years.  They are sure to pass on the experience to their family and peers about what they learnt.  It was great to see these kids have the experience of a lifetime that they will remember and cherish for many years.


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