A Yarning Circle creates a harmonious, creative and collaborative way of communicating to encourage responsible, respectful and honest interactions between participants within a natural bush setting, explains Mrs Ann Mills, Principal of Middle Dural Public School in Dural, NSW, who recently launched their brand new Yarning Circle.
Inspired by an underused bush area on the school grounds that was away from the student traffic area, Mrs Mills set about reaching out to local partners to create a space that would enhance the school’s natural bush setting and celebrate its Indigenous community connections.
“The students are very proud and respectful of their new Yarning Circle,” says Mrs Mills. “It has given them a voice and ownership through the joint creation of the Yarning Circle and the rules they need to follow to use it.”
Each staff member from the school community has also been involved to ensure the Yarning Circle can be included in their area of teaching. “By drawing on our Indigenous cultural heritage, we have incorporated topics such as ‘science and living things’; students will gain an appreciation of how the past and the natural environment can relate to their wellbeing,” explains Mrs Mills.
A Woolworths Junior Landcare Grant recipient, Middle Dural Public School used their grant for the Indigenous planting, bush tucker plants and soil surrounding the Yarning Circle. “We also used the grant to fund the Darug elder Chris Tobin to perform the Smoking Ceremony to cleanse the area,” says Mrs Mills.
“A Yarning Circle can be thought of as a Listening Circle,” Chris told the students as he explained to them there is no hierarchy in a Yarning Circle. The students who sit in the circle are equal and it helps them to listen and talk from the heart. He also encouraged students not be disheartened by climate change but rather to be inspired and learn from First Nations people who have been managing their land for thousands of years.