Mandurah Aboriginal students collaborate for Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation milestone

Aboriginal students across the region have collaborated to create a giant crab sculpture as a twentieth birthday gift to The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation

Established in Karratha in 1997, the foundation sponsors programs for Aboriginal students across the state, with aim of graduates moving into university courses, apprenticeships, traineeships or other meaningful employment.

Local students involved in the Follow the Dream: Partnerships for Success program, a beneficiary of that sponsorship, decided to celebrate the foundation’s birthday by creating a large Blue Manna Crab as it’s a symbol of Mandurah. 

The crab incorporates designs and means from students across Mandurah, Halls Head and Pinjarra. 

The program was founded in the Mandurah area in 2005.

Program coordinator Andrea Tacko said she was proud of what the students could create and the way they collaborated to bring their vision to fruition.

“Each site… was asked to come up with a unique artwork, poem etc that was unique to them,” Ms Tacko said.

“So we sort of had a bit of a network meeting and conversations with people and the Blue Manna Crab is unique to Mandurah, so that's what we’ve made.”

Of the 38 students in the program, 35 participated in the project. 

“Each student put forward one word to describe what the program means to them,” she said. 

The design incorporates those words in both English and Noongar. 

It also boasts carvings that symbolise the Murray, Harvey and Serpentine Rivers and an array of vibrant colours.  

We all got pretty close doing this and we learnt how to share better and we talked more. It was really fun.

Alexis Young

John Tonkin Collage year eight student Alexis Young said as well as a fun experience, she found the project educational. 

“I liked learning about the words and I actually didn’t know we had three rivers running through [the region],” she said. 

“We based it off a lot of photos that we printed off and we got one of the art teachers at the school to help us paint it and we mixed in all the colours to make it look better.” 

“We all got pretty close doing this and we learnt how to share better and we talked more. It was really fun,” she said. 

The 14-year-old said she enjoyed the program and that it was putting her on track to study her desired fields of criminal anthropology or marine biology in the future. 

“I helps me finish what needs to be finished in time and helps me elaborate on what I’ve already learnt,” she said. 

In her role Ms Tacko runs after school tuition and individual mentoring support to aspirant Aboriginal high school students.

“[The students] hang back with me on a Tuesday and Thursday and do homework and extension.

“It was for those who expressed a little bit more interest because some kids are arty and some aren’t.

“Some were particularly interested in contributing.  

“That’s what these guys have been doing. Hanging back on a Tuesday for all of last term and painting away.”

Currently there are currently around 1100 Aboriginal students participating in one of the Foundation’s 33 programs in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales.