Greenfields Primary School students blend environment and indigenous culture in artwork

Parents, students and special guests gathered at Greenfields Primary School on Friday for a unique assembly to showcase an art piece that blended the beauty of the regions wetlands with local indigenous culture. 

The artwork created by 52 year three students, after a school excursion to Lake Mealup and Lake Clifton in June, and formed part of the “Wetland Yarns” project.

The initiative brought together Noongar Elders, scientists, educators and artists, all sharing their knowledge and stories with students about the value of our wetland system.

Students learnt about the cultural and scientific importance of two wetland sites in the Peel-Yalgorup System.

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Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams and federal member for Canning Andrew Hastie were among those who helped with the official unveiling. 

In front of onlookers at the assembly Mr Williams, Mr Hastie and well-respected community leader George Walley read out stories, students had wrote about their trip.

Student wrote about their new curiosities for the wetlands, the flora and fauna they saw on the trip and their appreciation of relationships between people and the land.

They also learnt about the importance of environmental responsibility and how they can play a role in conserving and protecting our wetlands.

Principal Shannon Wright said the children were able to explore deep connections between culture and land during the trip and congratulated his staff for implementing the initiative. 

The excursion was led by local Noongar aboriginal elders and community leaders, including elder Harry Nannup.

Mr Walley shared Noongar language with the students, teaching traditional names for plants and animals and speaking about the cultural significance of the land.

The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council played a major role in bringing the project to fruition. 

The council is an incorporated, not-for-profit, community based Natural Resource Management organisation that promotes an integrated approach to catchment management and the way we protect and restore the environment within the Peel-Harvey catchment.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council programs aim to communicate how we are all part of a living eco-system and everything is connected.

The Wetland Yarns project is one of the first actions of the recently launched ‘Wetlands and People Plan’.

One of the plan’s goals is to increase the community’s capacity to protect wetlands. This is being done in a number of ways, including sharing stories of the wetlands.

This has been a pilot project and we will support similar projects for other schools into the future.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Council chair Andy Gulliver

Council chair Andy Gulliver said it was pleasure to collaborate with Greenfields Primary School and the Noongar community to create this ‘hands on’ educational experience.

“We hope this experience leaves a long lasting impression for the students involved and for future students,” he said. 

“This has been a pilot project and we will support similar projects for other schools into the future.”

During the trip to the wetlands Peel-Harvey Catchment Council science advisor Steve Fisher, and wetlands and people officer Sharon Meredith also provided educational experiences for the students. 

Two weeks after the trip renowned local artist Angela Rossen worked with the students over four days to create the artwork.

The finished artwork is accompanied by a panel depicting the Noongar names for the plants and animals. George Walley assisted in providing the Noongar language translations for the panel.

The picture will be displayed at the Greenfields Primary School and Mr Wright said eventually they will compliment a planned bush-tucker garden and yarning place. 

This project was supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program and City of Mandurah.

For more information about the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council visit their website