Yamaji is the collective name for Aboriginal people in the Murchison and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia (see map below). More than 300 Yamaji people (children, parents and carers, Elders and Aboriginal school staff) from twelve school communities participated in the Solid Kids, Solid Schools project.
What does the term ‘solid’ mean?
‘Solid’ in this website the term ‘solid’ is used to refer to something being good, positive or likeable. We believe that in order for schools with Aboriginal students to be solid, they must work with their Aboriginal staff, listen to their Aboriginal students and reach out to the Aboriginal families in their school community.
Solid Kids, Solid Schools
Solid Kids, Solid Schools is a research project that has aimed to collect cultural understandings of bullying among Yamaji children and their communities. The project has also worked with Yamaji school communities to develop relevant and culturally secure bullying prevention and management strategies. Read more about the Solid Kids, Solid Schools project.
Cultural security recognises the ‘legitimate cultural rights, values and expectations of Yamaji (Aboriginal) people’ (Western Australian Health Department, no date). Culturally secure bullying prevention and management strategies are being developed and maintained in consultation with local Yamaji people to provide community brokerage and guidance on local protocol (Coffin, 2007)
Knowledge of Aboriginal culture and customs are formalised in school guidelines and practice for managing and reducing bullying among Aboriginal students (Coffin, 2007). e.g. School principals commit to regular consultation with AIEOs, Aboriginal parents/carers and Elders to form bullying prevention and management policy that ensures culturally relevant practice occurs.
Knowledge of Aboriginal culture and customs informally influences school guidelines and practice for managing and reducing bullying among Aboriginal students (Coffin, 2007). e.g. School principals enlist Aboriginal staff such as AIEOs to build and strengthen school – community relationships by learning and celebrating Aboriginal culture and to assist in addressing bullying prevention and management with Aboriginal students and their families.
Knowledge of Aboriginal culture and customs are general with little or no application to school guidelines or practice for managing and reducing bullying among Aboriginal students (Coffin, 2007). e.g. The school principal acknowledges Aboriginal culture is different to non-Aboriginal culture but fails to enlist Aboriginal staff such as Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer/s (AIEOs) to assist with bullying prevention and management among Aboriginal students.
Elders are local Aboriginal community members who are deemed to have knowledge both culturally and historically for the region in which they reside. Elders, with their cultural and spiritual guidance, are the link to the past and future.
AIEO (Aboriginal Islander Education Officer)
AIEO (Aboriginal Islander Education Officer) is a non-teaching Aboriginal staff member who supports Aboriginal students and their families within the school. The term AIEO is unique to the Western Australian Department of Education and Training (DET). In the Catholic Education Office (CEO) a similar role is filled by an Aboriginal Teacher’s Assistant (ATA) or Aboriginal Liaison Officer (ALO); in the Independent School sector the title for this role is Aboriginal Education Worker (AEW).
Sharing Days In 2008 the Solid Kids, Solid Schools project held Sharing Days in Geraldton, Meekatharra, Shark Bay and Carnarvon. These Sharing Days were attended by AIEOs (ATAs or AEWs) and Aboriginal teachers to discuss ways to support Yamaji students involved in bullying.
Winyarn is a Yamaji term to describe someone who is seen as not being strong. It is also used by some other language groups throughout Western Australia. It can be used to describe: the way someone is feeling, a situation, or the way another person looks. It can also be used in a fun, joking way; sometimes it is used to be mean – for example, if it is said as a reason why someone is picked on: ‘because they are just winyarn’.
Yarning is a term used to describe informal chatting or talking. Yarning can also mean spreading rumours or, in a derogatory manner, as someone ‘carrying a yarn’ that is not true. Today, many Aboriginal young people use their mobile phone for yarn carrying.
Yamaji wangi means ‘Yamaji talk’. On this website, the following symbol is used to highlight Yamaji wangi and notes and quotes collected from Yamaji community members who participated in the Solid Kids, Solid Schools project.
Aboriginal protocols vary according to local customs. For this reason it is important to engage local Elders and community members to assist in the development of any strategy that focuses on Aboriginal students. A protocol is important for developing trust and two-way respect: the local Aboriginal people (AIEOs, ATAs, AEWs and Aboriginal health workers) are the best people to ask about which protocols to observe.
Family feuding is used to describe long-lasting feelings of anger or hostility between particular families. Feuding can affect the relationships that some children have at school and out of school. In some instances feuding has been going on for many years, and sometimes children are involved without knowing why they are ‘not allowed’ to be friends with another family or child.
Payback is when someone or a group of people take action towards another person or group of people to repay them for past hurt or mistreatment. The action is usually done with the intention to hurt or shame the other person or group of people.
Shame is more than feeling embarrassed or ashamed; for Aboriginal people it refers to being made to feel different or singled out. Shame can be a matter concerning what can be discussed and by whom, and it can be about gender differences, personal and sexual matters.
A bystander is someone or a group of people who see, support or know about bullying that is happening.