Our design eventuated through a collaboration of ideas from the Mount Austin iSTEM class and our feeder primary schools; Kapooka PS and Ashmont PS. In Aboriginal art, a meeting place is symbolised with circles and this was the basis for our design. It is designed as an outdoor learning space where small groups can sit and “yarn” in a scenic and natural environment.
Our school has a population that is almost 50% indigenous so it’s very important to us that traditional Aboriginal values and ideas are incorporated into this project. We also have a large proportion of recently arrived refugees at our school and it’s imperative that they feel a sense of belonging and that they are part of this circle.
The large totems that surround the bench seating, represent traditional Aboriginal totems. They carry messages of equity and respect. As you enter the circle, the words Everyone Belongs are illuminated, carrying the message and overarching theme of our installation.
At the centre of the circle is a feature redgum post symbolising the traditional Aboriginal Scar Tree reinforcing how traditional owners of our land made use of natural resources.
Many of the preliminary primary school designs included the use of hands which we have incorporated into the totems. The goanna was also pictured a lot in the children’s’ drawings and this has been included in the main totems.
Our main theme for this design are the words “Everyone Belongs”. It’s about bringing all cultures and beliefs together in a circle where everyone is equal. When seated, everyone is the same distance to the centre. It pays tribute to the traditional custodians of the land and recognises all other cultures that make our school such a unique place. The Aboriginal word for respect is Yindyamarra and this is represented on the totems.
This project allowed us to explore our creative sides through design, and taught us valuable skills, such as teamwork, collaboration, problem solving and working to a budget.
It gave us a greater understanding of the significance of connection to country and the importance of acceptance of culture. We hope our “Meeting Place” becomes just that; a place where people agree to meet. Be it an outdoor lesson, a place to rest, or an afternoon catch up with friends, The Meeting Place is where everyone belongs.