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Students forge friendships from beyond and back

 | 05 November 2015

Their schools may be separated by more than 2000 kilometres but that hasn’t stopped a special friendship forming between Swanbourne Primary School students and those at La Grange Remote Community School in the Kimberley.

Each year since 2013, the students have been visiting each other – La Grange students making the trip to Perth for a week in August, and Swanbourne students heading north for a week in October.

Swanbourne Primary School principal Lincoln Day said the Kids Together – Sharing Cultures – Sharing Schools program was innovative and loved by staff, students and parents.

“Our parents say it’s an incredible program that brings many people from different backgrounds together,” he said.

“The whole experience is for our students and those of the Bidyadanga community to share common beliefs and practices, and get a better appreciation of a different culture and world view.

“We also want students to develop strong relationships between each community and to discuss their views and histories with each other.”  

When La Grange students visit Perth they have an action- packed week which includes participating in community football games and barbecues, going to the West Coast Eagles clubrooms and a game at Domain Stadium, and visiting the Special Air Services Regiment army barracks and the SAS museum.

They also explore the Fremantle Maritime museum and Perth Zoo, have dinner with local families, and take part in the school sports carnival and classes.

Swanbourne students get to experience life at a remote school when they visit La Grange. They go to classes and visit local sites including the Port Smith Lagoon and Shelamar Station. They also take part in Aboriginal cultural activities.

“A very special part of our annual visit to the Bidyadanga community is getting together with our generous friends and hosts – members of the Karajarri Rangers program,” Mr Day said.

“On this special evening, students are exposed to the fundamental Aboriginal cultural practices and beliefs of the five traditional language groups of the community.

“All of this takes place below a setting sun as the students eat food that has been prepared via traditional methods. It’s a remarkable experience.”

Families love the Kids Together – Sharing Cultures – Sharing Schools program

“For two years now we have had a special friendship with Swanbourne Primary School. It means a lot to our kids to go to the city and learn about life in the mainstream. They leave here excited and a little bit nervous. It’s all new to them where they’re going, and they don’t know what to expect. When they come home, they’re happy, they have new friends and they’re not scared anymore. When the Swanbourne mob come to visit us we’re proud to show them our school and our country. We like to share our culture with people who want to learn from us. It’s good to know we have friends in Swanbourne and we want you to know that you have friends here in Bidyadanga.” Maureen Yanawana (Aunty), Managala Elder

“Without any doubt, this program has reached far beyond our school. The work of the school staff, council and many parents has generated a profound level of support for this special program. There are many, many individuals, private companies and corporations who have willingly contributed physical and financial resources to ensure the program is sustainable. I am aware that our school has been approached by a number of other schools interested in the Kids Together model.” Mike Edwards (parent), Swanbourne Primary School