• Noongar artist Peter Farmer with his Aboriginal mural
A West Australian school has earned the state's highest honour at the Partnership, Acceptance, Learning and Sharing (PAL) Awards for using education to move towards reconciliation.
Ryan Emery

21 Nov 2013 - 12:50 PM  UPDATED 21 Nov 2013 - 12:50 PM

Coolbinia Primary School has integrated Aboriginal culture into their curriculum, teaching students from Kindergarten to year seven about Aboriginal artists, politics and tragedies of the past.

“The students are actually exposed to the history, the dark side of history such as massacres, and how do we grieve for the past or the Stolen Generation, or the policies that were in place by the government of the time,” says Coolbinia Primary School Principal Julie Bettenay.

Noongar artist, Peter Farmer has helped the students embrace Aboriginal culture by creating a mural that represents the Noongar people's six seasons.

“For myself, it's a really good opportunity to get out and teach them about our culture,” said Mr Farmer.

But Mr Farmer says other schools he's visited still have a long way to go.

“The kids were just shocked to see me walk in, ‘there's an Aboriginal person in the school,’ the understanding of me being at this school. They knew a bit about the Noongar culture, but what I taught them, and a little bit more, they really took that home,” said Mr Farmer.

The school also has a bush tucker garden and a kitchen known as the Kwobardan, meaning meeting place in the Noongar language, where students learn to cook with native spices.

More than 230 schools took part in the PALS program this year; running 261 projects to help students better understand Aboriginal culture.