Gorokan High School program to be presented at World conference

Staff and senior students of Gorokan High School. Image: School websiteStaff and senior students of Gorokan High School. Image: School website

Central Coast Council’s Indigenous health and education program for high school students will be presented at an international conference in Canada at the end of July.

Council’s Indigenous Community Development Worker, Mr Matt Sonter, will present Ngura (meaning place) at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) in Toronto, Ontario, from July 24 to 28. Known as one of the most prestigious Indigenous education events the world has to offer, WIPCE attracts highly-regarded Indigenous education experts, practitioners and scholars from across the globe to share successes and strategies for culturally grounded Indigenous education. Council Group Leader, Connected Communities, Ms Julie Vaughan, said it was an amazing feat for something that started as a program aimed at encouraging Indigenous students to develop a healthy lifestyle and live a fuller life, to make it to the global forum. “The Ngura program is gaining a real sense of recognition on the Central Coast and internationally,” Ms Vaughan said. “Each year, the program continues to grow in our local schools and you can see the benefi ts from the students attending, as well as growing recognition in the wider community,” she said. “Ngura focuses on more than the students. “The work Matt does with the students, their families and the wider Indigenous community here on the Coast is remarkable. “This year Ngura is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and there’s no better way to do this than on the world stage,” Ms Vaughan said. In 2009, Ngura was honoured by the United Nations in the Kinnie Chase Awards for Health and Education, leading to fi rst nation’s communities in America and Canada running a similar version of the program for their students. The Ngura program focuses on Aboriginal health issues, nutrition, leadership, self-image, and goal setting, as well as maintaining participants’ pride in their Indigenous culture and heritage. The program shows students the importance of physical activity, and at its completion, the students obtain certifi cates in Level One Aboriginal History and Level One Sport and Recreation, as well as their Bronze Medallion. As part of the 10-year anniversary, Council went back to where it all started, with one of the original participants and 15 students from Years 7-9 at Gorokan High School. Gorokan High School teacher, Mr Trent Lake, was one of the original graduates of the Ngura program in 2007, and said he was excited to see the program continuing to grow. “I’m honoured to be involved with Ngura again, this time as a teacher, and seeing the changes it makes to the students involved,” Mr Lake said. “I have to admit, if it wasn’t for the program 10 years ago, I don’t think I would be teaching today. “Ngura helped me gain confi dence and responsibility. “It also gave me an understanding of what goals are and how to set goals in life. “They aren’t served on a platter, you need to work hard and make sacrifi ces to achieve them. “I had my heart set on a sporting career and through the program I learnt how to focus on the future through education, which opened up a number of opportunities for me. “I was offered scholarships to help further my education and sporting career. “Ten years on I’m a qualifi ed teacher. “I went out and learned what I needed to, but I was always coming back to where it all started to give back to my community. “Ngura is already being used in Indigenous communities overseas, and I will be encouraging more students and schools to be involved each year, as I have personally experienced its benefi ts. “This program is a valuable council initiative and I hope to be part of the journey that sees Ngura grow even bigger and better for our community,” Mr Lake said. Source:

Media release, Jul 17 Central Coast Council media