The Kids on Country Camp Program is held at Nature Foundation’s two largest Nature Reserves:
Witchelina Nature Reserve located on the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha, Kuyani and Arabana People, 625 km north of Adelaide;
Hiltaba Nature Reserve located on the traditional lands of the Gawler Ranges People – Kokatha, Bungala and Wirangu, 750 km Northwest of Adelaide.
Nature Foundation delivered its first Kids on Country Camp for Norwood International High School at Witchelina Nature Reserve from Monday 23 – Friday 27 October, 2023. Facilitators included:
Katie Perry (Kids on Country Coordinator),
Warren Milera (Aboriginal Cultural Lead Facilitator and Youth Programs and Conservation Officer),
Helen Palmer (Conservation Facilitator)
Michael Mills (Palaeontology Facilitator)
Raijieli Bovoro (Nature Foundation Aboriginal Conservation Trainee Officer)
Alice Smith (SA Arid Lands Landscape Board)
Declan Morris (SA Arid Lands Landscape Board)
The program provides Aboriginal young people the opportunity to participate in ‘on-country’ camps, where they have the space to develop, nurture and grow their ambition to pursue further study and evaluate career opportunities. The camps have a culture-first approach, where participants are afforded the opportunity to grow under the mentorship of senior Aboriginal people, whilst engaging in practical on-country studies in conservation and land management. The Program uses innovative E-Learning tools combined with field studies to deliver the following program objectives:
To strengthen cultural learning and well-being.
To support ongoing youth engagement in education.
To inspire future careers in conservation land management.
To develop skills, abilities, and strengths of the future leaders of communities
The program also provides young Aboriginal people aged between 13–19 with:
Skills and knowledge in conservation and land management practices;
Opportunities to build on skills and aptitudes for personal growth and long-term success and development;
Transmission of Traditional ecological and cultural knowledge, stories and practice by Aboriginal Key Stakeholders including Elders;
A program that is linked to secondary school curriculum and accredited to SACE Stage 1, Community Program.
Area of Learning Self Development;
Improved health and wellbeing through connection to nature and country;
A platform to share knowledge and grow together and in partnership.
Designed to improve well-being, teach life skills, build self-esteem on country and spark further interest in nature science for Aboriginal young people, the program builds employability skills and provides pathways to education. The on-country experience accelerates opportunities for relationship building and shared learning between young Aboriginal people, Traditional Owners, Nature Foundation staff, education providers and potential employers in the region. Activities included:
Welcome to Country
Tour of nature reserve by vehicle
Safety and Induction
Vehicle Safety Checks
Reading and Interpreting Landscapes
Participation in Nature Trail Walks
Bird surveys and What bird is that? research
Stories of Inspiration
Sustainability and resource management
Highlights of the camp include:
Uncle Warren Milera spoke about his life and his journey as an Aboriginal man/role model in his community and sang some of his original songs that linked to self-esteem and a strong identity for participants, along with providing tips to succeed and stay out of trouble. Warren was able to link his presentation/performance with the different activities across the camp and reinforce some of the learnings over the five days. Uncle Warren shared tips for young Aboriginal people to succeed in Western culture while remaining strong in Identity.
Dreamtime is the foundation of Aboriginal religion and culture. It dates back 65,000 years. It is the story of events that have happened, how the universe came to be, how human beings were created and how their creator intended us to function within the world as they knew it. Stories shared included rules and ways of being such as lessons not to hurt animals; how one should show respect in another's country and how one should behave in certain circumstances.
These stories are the cultural rules and obligations Aboriginal people are expected to live by, within their culture. Uncle Warren spends a lot of time yarning with students individually, in particular the young men, building relationships and speaking about anything the young people wish to share.
Uncle Warren generously shares his cultural knowledge through stories, oral traditions, language and knowledge of places and plants. The students absolutely loved yarning and sharing stories with Uncle Warren.