NSW Ports has funded the installation of a yarning circle and native garden at an Illawarra school.

Warrawong Public School was one of 17 groups to receive funding from the NSW Ports 2022 Community Grants Program. The program focussed on supporting community participation, community infrastructure and sustainability and the environment.

Yarning circles are an important process in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. They are meeting places where people sit together to tell stories and build relationships.

Warrawong Public School’s new yarning circle and native garden feature First Nations artworks. The installation aims to connect students with the community and build cultural knowledge.

NSW Ports communications manager Brooke Eggleton said the program supports meaningful projects in the communities surrounding the business’s ports and intermodal terminals.

“Port Kembla has a deep connection to the Illawarra that’s endured for more than a hundred years and, to this day, 99% of the port’s workforce live locally,” she said.

“Our local community plays an integral role in maintaining port operations that contribute so much to the state. 

“Warrawong Public School has done a spectacular job creating a beautiful sandstone yarning circle, which is a cultural learning space where everyone across the school and local community can come together to connect, communicate and collaborate.”

Warrawong Public School built its new native garden with First Nations interpretive signage to help people identify plants, while a local Indigenous artist created murals and artworks.

Warrawong Public School teacher and permaculture co-ordinator Ben Anderson said the school was proud to have created a space where students, teachers and the community can gather.

“This project is already improving the well-being of our students and school community, especially for our more than 60 First Nations students, by developing and supporting cultural knowledge and pride,” Mr Anderson said.

“It’s also fostering a sense of sustainability, curiosity and care for the local environment by reconnecting everyone involved and everyone who now visits, with their sense of place.

“I thank NSW Ports for their contribution that’s helped us make this project such a success.”

The new yarning circle at Warrawong Public School. Source: NSW Ports