Richmond Institute would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of Normanby Station the Balnggarrawarra people, and pay respect to their elders past, present, and emerging. For they hold the memories, tradition, culture, and hope of Aboriginal Australia, this land always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
Recently selected Richmond Institute students had the privilege of traveling to Cairns and taking part in an immersive cultural experience. Both Richmond Football Club and Richmond Institute pride themselves on the continuous relationship with Indigenous Australians, and how AFL can potentially play a role in connecting two cultures.
The trip saw students heading to the outskirts of Cairns and participating in activities organised by AFL Cairns partnered with AFL Cape York. Students were sent to different schools across Cairns and ran AFL clinics for primary and secondary school students, hoping to introduce them to AFL. This was a great way for students to have the opportunity to work in a school environment and have better coaching skills and development. AFL Cape York was an eye-opening experience for Richmond Institute students, learning and connecting with Indigenous students from up the Cape and surrounding islands. Students were given the opportunity to visit both the boy and girl houses and meet and interact with staff and students. For students, this was a very inspiring experience, hearing from workers who are passionate about what they do and making a difference for disadvantaged Indigenous youth, giving them the best opportunity at both education and football. Students were then lucky enough to meet and talk to Rick Hanon, General Manager at AFL Cape York, and be given an insight into the goals and the aim of starting up AFL Cape York. The day’s work was then celebrated with a game of footy between both sets of students.
From Cairns, the trip was moved further up north where students made their way up to Normanby Station with the company Culture Connect’. This 4-day cultural trip granted students an experience that is normally away from the public eye, spending quality time on traditional Indigenous land and with traditional owners. Students were able to visit traditional rock art that goes back many generations, hear stories about past elders, and learn about traditional remedies and practices. Students took part in a welcome-to-country smoking ceremony and ate dinner each night underneath the stars.
On behalf of the students that attended, I must acknowledge how much of a privilege this trip was. The continuous support and education that ‘Culture Connect’ delivers around Indigenous culture and Indigenous Australians was very inspiring and reassuring that change is possible. I also wish to acknowledge the pain and suffering experienced due to early settlement at Normanby, we are forever grateful for the stories shared with us as well as sacred sites.
Richmond Institute students we able to demonstrate key individual strengths throughout the trip such as leadership and determination, but also work on and improve weaknesses together as a team. Student trips allow for improvement and involvement outside the classroom, bettering both personal and professional development in an unfamiliar environment.
This article was written by Hayley Fisher, a current Diploma of Sport/Diploma of Leadership and Management (SIS50321/BSB50420) student studying in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology and the Richmond Football Club.