SA Water brought its Sustainability Challenge educational workshop to 83 Aboriginal students for the first time, during National Reconciliation Week as part of its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2017-2020.
SA Water’s Business Strategy Lead, and proud Mirning Kokotha woman Trish Larking, guided Sustainability Challenge’s debut to Aboriginal students from 18 different metropolitan and regional schools over two consecutive days, as part of the STEM Aboriginal Student Congress at Adelaide Oval.
Using a workshop format, the students in grades six to nine explored sustainability in line with the Australian curriculum and the congress’ theme of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
“Students learned about sustainability principles before putting their knowledge into action to build their own model town,” Trish said.
Using specially-designed 3-D maps of a land area, students turned into town planners, designing their towns to be be environmentally, socially and financially sustainable, and building water and wastewater infrastructure for their communities.
“By sparking Aboriginal students’ interest in today’s urban water supply, we’re helping build the analytical skills and knowledge they’ll need for the workplaces of tomorrow, such as SA Water,” Trish said.
“The interactive learning format lets the students give voice to their Aboriginal heritage and its strong tradition in environmental management.
“We’re teaming knowledge from yesterday, with modern science to show how we can work together to create a more sustainable future.”
Helping Trish support the students, were Ben Denison, Jeff Smith and Shane Adderton, three Aboriginal employees from SA Water, who shared their own experiences with the kids, encouraging them to keep asking questions.
“The special part of being involved in these sorts of activities, is being able to showcase our Aboriginal employees as positive role models for the younger generation,” Trish said.
SA Water’s RAP sets out how the organisation will work to achieve its aims for Reconciliation over the next three years and supporting communities in new ways, such as through education, is part of this approach.
“The Sustainability Challenge was wonderful, not just because we were able to provide a great learning experience for Aboriginal students, it also provided an opportunity for our Aboriginal employees to mentor the next generation.
“I would love to be involved again next year.”
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