Gamilaraay or "G-trips" involve students spending a week in rural and at times isolated regions of northern NSW. Prior to commencement in schools, all G-participants spend some reflective time at the Myall Creek Monument, where they explore how best to learn from the mistakes of the past and how, through reconciliation, we can close gaps and work together towards a more just and inclusive future for all people. From there, the students work for five days in a primary or preschool with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, experiencing daily life in a country setting and learning from the staff and students.
The schools recently visited by Radford students include Minimbah Preschool and Primary, Kiah Preschool, Moree East Public School and Tingha Public School. At these wonderful schools, Radford students spend some of their time acting as a teacher's assistant, helping the students develop their reading, writing and numeracy (identified as a goal in the Closing The Gap report).
But help is not restricted to the classroom, as students are equally willing to help clean, file, paint, garden, cook, coach, play, swim, sing, dance and accompany on school trips and carnivals, and wherever else their schools deem appropriate.
Perhaps most importantly, they develop great friendships and memories by walking alongside the kids. It is hoped that while they are having fun in and out of the classroom, that they are also acting as good role models for the children in their care.
Since 2011, Radford students have grasped this rich and rewarding challenge and turned the G-trips into an essential part of the Radford Senior School experience. Its honour roll is 250 participants strong and the list continues to grow as Radford College further forges its relationships in the 'Gamilaraay' region.
Some student reflection extracts
* I have learnt that although one person in 7 billion cannot change the world overnight; 250 people over 5 years can make a slow but significant change.
* Many people are aware of the statistics surrounding indigenous disadvantage in regard to health, life expectancy and employment outcomes. But there is a difference between knowing these things and understanding them. One cannot derive a deep sense of understanding without first empathising and confronting the problem on a very visceral level.
* I have learnt that although it isn't fair in any way - we are incredibly lucky to be where we are.