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Community Culture – Yalari boys thrive at The Southport School

Jul 1, 2021

Yalari and TSS have been working together since 2009 to educate and empower Indigenous children.

The Southport School (TSS) has a long and proud history with Yalari which spans over a decade. We are fortunate that Yalari has provided the opportunity for Indigenous young men to be part of our community, and our story, since 2009. From this time, we have seen 11 Yalari students graduate from the school and today, we proudly have 7 young Yalari men thriving in, and impacting on, the TSS community. Our newly appointed Headmaster, Andrew Hawkins, is initiating further support for our Indigenous students with the employment of the school’s first Indigenous Liaison Officer, Mr Cameron Lestro. Yalari’s involvement with the school has allowed our Indigenous Liaison to learn from Yalari staff, allowing the school to better support the whole Indigenous community at TSS.

TSS has a wide range of students from different locations, backgrounds and abilities, and this is no different for our Yalari students. We are blessed to have Yalari students from all over Australia: from as far as Moranbah in Queensland, and as wide as Darwin in the Northern Territory. The school strives to support and encourage all students to reach their academic potential, whatever their ability. Jay Campbell (Year 10) recognises this and said that “teachers are always willing to give me a hand when I’m having trouble with anything in class.” This coincides with the school’s high expectations of students, as Eli Pyziakos (Year 8) has already identified. “The workload can be challenging but it means I can grow and become more independent.” The school is very proud of the Yalari students and their efforts, as they rise to the occasion when challenged in their academic work and assessment.

(Back L to R):  Jabreeni Fogarty, Jordan Swan, Ratu Davui, Liam Longbottom (Middle): Chris Whap, Buddy Stanley (Front): Keriba Bligh, Geoffrey Swan, Logan Taylor (2014)

(L to R):  Jordan Swan, Logan Taylor, Buddy Stanley, Jabreeni Fogarty, Mr Karel Bros, Headmaster Alan Parsons (2010)

Yalari students at the school are very proud of the rich history and culture the school provides. The concept of a Band of Brothers is at the core of this culture and values, stemming from the school’s old boys who made the ultimate sacrifice in both World Wars. The boys love this sense of comradery which is fostered within the boarding houses, house shield, GPS sport and other extracurricular activities. Within the boarding houses Xavier Stanley (Year 8) said, “it’s like having a sleepover with all my mates all the time!” but he also said that missing his home and family can be challenging at times.  Luke Tennant (Year 10) is one of our better Rugby players at the school but also said, “it’s great to be able to play a lot of the other sports with my mates as well like tennis, rowing and cricket. I would never play these sports if I didn’t come to TSS.” Jay also loves the way the school is passionate about the GPS competition, “It’s such an awesome day when you win a game of rugby and then go and lose your voice doing war cries and cheering on our Firsts Rugby team.”

With the installment of our first Indigenous Liaison officer at the school, the Yalari students (along with our other Indigenous students) are pioneering the Banam Bowai (Yugumbeh, Younger Brother Shark) Program which is empowering them to bring the beauty and strength of their culture to become part of the wider school community. At the moment the Yalari students are learning the didgeridoo so they can perform at school ceremonies. They are also engaging in an art project that we hope will become the first Indigenous tie in the school’s history. Tate Pyziakos (Year 7) said that the Banam Bowai Program “has allowed me to embrace my culture and history.”

The Southport School is very proud to partner with Yalari, a great organisation that helps support our young Indigenous men to reach their full potential. The students that Yalari brings are loved by the whole school and they contribute in a number of significant ways. Thank you to Yalari, their supporters and Waverley Stanley AM. It is truly a privilege and an honour to have these young men at our school and to see the strength and potential in each one of them realised.

Cameron Lestro
Indigenous Liaison Officer

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