|MULTICULTURAL AWARD FOR
EXCELLENCE - YARRAM PRIMARY SCHOOL
In November 2011 the
Victorian government recognised our local primary school with an extremely
prestigious award, the Victorian Multicultural Education Award, for ....
Recognising the outstanding
practices in education that raise awareness and support implementation
of multicultural initiatives.
In making the award, presented
to Principal Penny Earle and teacher Marg Beagley at Government House,
the documented citation read:
At Yarram Primary School,
global and multicultural education has been on the agenda since 2000 when
the school first participated In Harmony Day as part, of the Federal Government's
Living in Harmony initiative. This proved to be an enjoyable, hands-on
way for students to become aware of the world outside Yarram, Building
on the success of these activities, the school found innovative ways to
immerse the students in another culture. In 2006 the school hosted a group
of twelve African refugees for one week in the Yarram community. This involved
members of the school community taking the refugees into their homes and
bringing them to school each day to share activities Involving music, cooking,
art and cultural exchange. The refugees shared some of their stories with
the Yarram community. Other community organisations such as Rotary, the
Historical Society and the Maritime Society were also involved in this
initiative. This intercultura! experience was so valuable that It was held
again in 2007. culminating In an event which raised funds for a hospital
From 2008 the school extended
its global and multicultural citizenship program to encompass a relationship
with an Argentinean school, making use of Information Communication Technology
(ICT) skills such as video conferencing. Students became e-pals with Argentinean
students and shared cultural interactions, and Ihe Yarram students produced
video clips of Melbourne life to share with their counterparts In Argentina.
This global relationship continues with students talking to each other
via skype regularly.
The school has gone on
to deepen their work in global education with their involvement in a research
program, the Interculttiral Understanding Field Trials with the Department
of Education and Early Childhood Development. They are using this opportunity
to extend their understanding of their local Indigenous community.
Cultural awareness and understanding
in the education system in the region commenced in 1991 with the appointment
of head-teacher Wendy Bouker at Carrajung Primary School, a small two-teacher
rural school thirty kilometres north of Yarram. Wendy had experience teaching
a range of nationalities and cultures during her years at Melton and North
Fitzroy Primary schools, and recognised the social implications of providing
children with an understanding and acceptance of a diverse range of cultures
and philosophies to enrich their life, especially as they grew into adults
making their way in a multicultural society.
At Carrajung, Bouker’s social
education in a school of some twenty children living in a somewhat isolated
rural area was initially more concerned with giving the children a greater
awareness of life beyond the hills and forests of the Strezelecki Range.
The annual school ‘camp’, for example, used to be held nearby and even
on the school’s playground - Wendy took the elder children to Melbourne,
to travel on a tram, to visit Lygon Street and, a favorite for the kids,
Chinatown. The excursion was not without concern, indeed disapproval, from
some parents, the adage being “you shouldn’t wander too far from home”.
The children were billeted at Wendy's previous school, North Fitzroy Primary,
where they integrated with a range of cultures, including Australian indigenous,
for several days.
On joining the staff of Yarram
Primary School after three years at Carrajung (the school is now closed),
Bouker continued her direction of promoting awareness of other cultures,
and embraced the Harmony Day initiatives of the government. Living in a
town and local rural community of 2000 predominantly white anglo-saxon
inhabitants, Wendy searched successfully for people with non-Australian
backgrounds to speak and work with the kids (making pizza was a favorite
of course), but one day was hardly sufficient to endorse a cultural awareness.
The indigenous community of nearby Latrobe Valley were approached by the
school cluster (schools in the area) and several short-term one-off programs
were established with moderate success.
Wendy Bouker recognised that
a one-day attempt to instill cultural awareness was totally ineffective.
After extensive negotiations with community leaders in Melbourne, and with
parents, in May 2006, Yarram Primary hosted twelve west African refugees,
of ages fourteen to seventy, who were billeted out by local families. They
came to the school each day, and presented fascinating classes in
their culture, geography, cooking, and music. The children loved it, and
the Yarram community embraced the visitors. Led by a great humanitarian
and remarkable man, Alan Herman, a white South African who is a pastor
at a church in Reservoir, the visitors also gained immensely from the cultural
exchange and many friends were made. The program was repeated the following
year with equal success. The funding for the unique program was totally
borne by the visiting group, the school, private contributions and the
Yarram business community.
It would be reasonable to
suggest that the concept was not, initially, totally embraced by the school
because of logistic and financial concerns but was supported by the parent’s
committee. Any concerns were soon resolved, and Yarram Primary School was
now a leading educational institute fully embracing multiculturalism.
The passion continued within
the school, not just with the established Harmony Day but throughout the
teaching year with individual one-off programs, and within the school’s
curriculum, for example in the art and music programs.
In 2009, the Yarram Primary
School established a close relationship with a large school (of primary
and secondary levels) in Buenos Aires, conceived and established by teacher
Marg Beagley, and again embraced by Wendy Bouker and all staff. Telecommunication
video links were established and educational materials and gifts exchanged.
Calegio Ward school is perhaps the only one in South America which can
sing Waltzing Matilda, even though they may be confused with the implications
of its words! Teachers from Yarram Primary have attended Argentinian cultural
events in Melbourne, and in 2011, teacher Beagley visited the school in
Buenos Aires in her own time and at her own expense. The relationship between
the schools continues.
In 2011, Yarram Primary School
was invited by the Victorian Education Department to participate in a three-month
study to develop the concepts of multicultural education in state schools.
Teachers Wendy Bouker and Marg Beagley represented Yarram Primary school,
and on one occasion, four students also represented the school at a forum
seeking experiences and ideas.
The achievements of Yarram
Primary School through the initiatives of teachers such as Bouker and Beagley
and the support of principal Penny Earle and all the staff is quite remarkable
considering that the school is 200 km from Melbourne, has under 160 pupils,
and like many states, has its share of social concerns and administrative
time constraints. But the school has demonstrated what can be done with
dedication of a few teachers and the support of others. The effort is rewarded
by a rounded social education for the children - and great fun for all
The efforts of Yarram Primary
School were recognised in November 2011 by the Victorian government with
a presentation at Government house of the Victorian Multicultural Education
Award, to principal Penny Earle and teacher Marg Beagley. Wendy Bouker,
whose passion and initiative in Gippsland started twenty years ago, could
not attend on the day due to health reasons. The school continues to embrace
multiculturism and the principal and two teachers mentioned remain at the
|THE ALBERTON ELEPHANT
During the mid-19th century,
an elephant was brought to Alberton by Edward Martin. This recently found
photograph is believed to indeed be of that pacyderme. According to Kenneth
Cox in his excellent history Land of the Pelican, and John Adams in his
equally informative From These Beginnings, the elephant was enjoying, presumably,
a leisurely sea cruise from Hobart when the vessel called in to Port Albert
and anchored off, it is thought, Kate Kearney entrance. Here it was landed,
probably by swimming it ashore. The elephant had been bought from a 'Ceylon
syndicate of sailors' in Hobart by Edward Martin of Alberton. Local folklore
has it as a once circus animal but if it were owned by a Ceylonese sailors,
it was probably brought to Australia from Ceylon to sell. Local folklore
also has the 'circus animal' heading from Hobart to Sydney to be sold.
Be that as it may, Edward Martin bought and brought the elephant to Alberton
to work on his property, much to the utter astonishment of the early settlers
and of frightening bewilderment to the local aborigine population. Edward's
belief was that the elephant would be an ideal ‘draught horse' to plow
his land. Instead it frightened the cattle, drove off the aborigines, and
proved impractical on the land. No doubt the elephant came to the same
conclussion and wandered off one cold night into the bush and disappeared.
Its carcass was later found on the Martin property, a sad end to a magnifient
Research has not, so far,
revealed any specific date on the elephant's arrival at Alberton. Edward
Martin lived at ‘Fen Farm' on the road to West Alberton - when, is not
certain but the property was later owned by a Mr G. Scott. Edward Martin
died in 1883. We are probably looking at a period from 1850 to 1870.
The photograph shows what
appears to be a man of dark colouring sitting atop the elephant. Edward
and his brother Jacob were know to have dressed their aborigine labour
in western clothes made of striped bed-ticking; this could be a local aborigine
who had obviously overcome any apprehension toward the animal. Well, we
hope so anyway. It begs the question of course - who are the four
people in the photograph, and indeed was this photo taken at Alberton.
The photo was recently presented by a well-established district family
of several generations and thus has a measure of veracity that it was local.
A quiz question: How can
you determine whether it is an Asian elephant or an African elephant.?
Any information on this period
would be appreciated, especially verification of the photograph. You may
like to contact David Gregory at the nursery in Commercial Road, or Peter
Stone by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND WAS IT THE ELEPHANT?
It has been generally agreed
that this is NOT the Martin elephant. Yarram resident Kate Remfrey recalls
that in the fifties and before, a circus would come to town quite regularly,
and her father would enthusiastically collect elphant poo for the garden,
it being especially high in nutrients so itt is said. She believes the
photo if of a curcus elephant. The clothing seems to endorse that.
Link on the photo for a larger image.
YARRAM UNDERGROUND DRAINAGE
Yarram means 'swamp' in
the local indiginous language, and Yarram Yarram, the original name for
the area, means a bloody big swamp. It is on this swamp that opur delightful
town was built, due in most part to the location of the first pub around
which the town grew. Unfortunately, the town centre has a few problems
with drainage during a downpour, with water overlapping onto the footpath,
and occassionally, coming very close to entering premises. In 1995, when
the Wellington Shire was established after Premier Kennett destroyed many
local shires, the new CEO, Humphries, decided to woo the locals with a
plan to improve drainage in Commercial Road. Drainage was put on the five-year
plan, but, like so many political promises, nothing was done during the
next five years - then the next five years - then the next five years.
Even for the Wellington Shire, this has gone on long enough, so without
further consultation with the locals, the council decided to dig a large
hole on the outskirts of the town centre, for water 're-use' into which
the townwater will be drained, and thence allowing it to flow to the Albert
A public meeting was held
in Yarram on 24 February to which some eighty people attended to listen
to the shire's proposal. It appears that we have the right to vote whether
the project goes ahead or not because - we will be paying in part for it
- that is, the property owners within the CBD of Yarram. Our proportion
of the cost will be $477,000 at a stated average of around $6,000 per landowner.
This 'average' is a meaningless figure as the charges will be based on
a rate of $7 per square metre of titled property, and thus will vary from
$4,000 to $20,000 per title - a considerable sum - which may be paid off
over five years - with interest of course.
The lively, well conducted
meeting (by local elected Councillor Jeff Amos), raised a number of concerns
from the public:
1. Was the proposal necessary,
considering the relatively infrequent flooding over the footpath.
2. The council has not maintained
the existing outfall drainage, especially from the James Street corner
heading west and south toward the Albert River, with restictions in drainage
size due to poor design and lack of maintenance. Fix the existing system,
attend to regular maintenance of the drains then see what else is required.
3. The low flat land does
not appear to have the capability to allow a sufficient fall for effective
drainage. The question of the level of the natural water table was raised
but not discussed - this will affect effect drainage, or more strictly,
the outflow from the drainage away from the town. But 'expert engineers'
have said that the proposal will work.
4. Why should any individual
be required to pay for the scheme when it is a public works project for
the benefit of the wider community.
5. If a general purpose
charge is to be levied on the community, why is the charge levied against
just the landholders who have titled property fronting Commercial Road,
and some adjoining roads, rather than the whole Yarram district community,
when it is recognised that the whole community would, allegedly, benefit
from the drainage proposal.
6. There is concern for
the health and safety of the community with respect to the 'pond' being
constructed off Lawler Street. Dubbed variously 'the Pond', Mosquito Lake,
and Lake Amos by the community, it is adjacent to a BMX track and youth
centre. Questions have been asked whether it will be fenced. The answer
from council is no, with the comment that it will be shallow, and after
all, the magnificent lake at Sale is not fenced.
7. There is concern that
if the proposal is outvoted, any consideration for the drainage of Yarram
that may be raised in years to come will be ignored. "You had your chance",
could be the response from the Sale-based shire.
8. Wellington shire is questioned
as to why the full amount of the works was not budgeted for, particularly
considering that they have had fifteen years to do so.
9. Questions arose as to
how long the works will take, and what disruption there will be to traffic,
to disruption of trade, and to access to premises.
10. Concerns were raised
about the co-ordination of efforts between the Shire, Vic Roads, and the
South Gippsland Water Board should the project proceed.
The consultation process
with the community will extend to the end of 2011, with defined expectation
dates for various stages of the process. Although no reporter from the
Yarram Standard News attended the meeting (why not?), it is hoped that
the lcoal paper will keep us informed of the stages of the consultative
process. The general feeling expressed at the meeting, and in 'foot-path
consultations' in town, is that there is a hesitation to adopt the proposal,
with concern for the competency of the council with respect to engineering
aspects, and to the funding method propossed. Clearly, there will
be much debate before a definitive decision is made.
And a word to the council
members present: it is common courtesy to stand up when you speak without
a microphone to a large audience; speak clearly, and leave your emotions
behind. Nobody is interested in your retirement in six months time and
that you don't care what the outcome may be.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE BE
CAREFUL ON OUR ROADS
Whereas Yarram and Port
Albert are located in one of the finest regions of Australia, we are also
in the vicinity of timber plantations and a timber mill. Some, but not
all, log truck drivers seem to think they own the road and their testosterone
is boosted by their own weapon of mass destruction which they drive without
much consideration nor intelligence for anyone else on the road. The community
has been outraged by another car-log truck accident over the Easter 2009
weekend which left one injured adult and two injured children - and a family
car written off. Private legal action is being considered as Vic
Roads and police don't seem to be able to do anything if the log-trucks
speed on narrow unmade roads, hog the centre of the road and cut corners
- as allegedly happened recently. The situation is so bad that local residents
in some areas have been issued with, or provide their own radios to tune
in as to where the log-trucks are - but that is no help to visitors. Be
particularly careful on Bolgers Road, Devon North; Roberts Road, Calrosssie;
the Hyland Way between Traralgon and Yarram, and the Albert River Road
and Christies-Albert River Road in the Binginwarrie area - and connecting
roads in these areas. Visitors to beautiful Hiawatha must take exceptional
care especially around the Stacy's Bridge area.
NORTH WINDFARM PROPOSAL
MEETING, re Shire performance.
13 OCTOBER, 2004
REGENT THEATRE, YARRAM
WRON, EX PRISON FARM
Use as Indigenous Adult
Recreational Diversion Program. Information Sheet from Department