Red Dust settles in Moruya: Education program heals wounds

Joe Brierley and his work with Indigenous students at Moruya High School was recently featured in the Batemans Bay Post/Moruya Examiner newspaper. The teacher is the driving force behind the Red Dust Healing program and has seen his students thrive. Read the story below:

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Program co-founder Tom Powell visited the school and was “humbled” by the boy’s progress. Logan Antonio James Connell may be an aspiring soccer star, but thanks to the Red Dust Healing program, he’s also shining in other ways. The 15-year-old is one of more than 20 Moruya High School students taking part in the cultural education project, which aims to heal the wounds of colonisation among Indigenous males.

For Logan, Red Dust Healing taught him to make choices from the heart and to be a role modal for younger boys.

“I picked up a lot of tools that will help me in life and make me able to become a better person and leader for younger generations,” Logan said

“I’ve got a little brother. Hopefully he looks up to me and can follow in the same path, by not mucking up and never getting in trouble with the law.”

The year 9 student plays for the Monaro Panthers in the Under 16s National Premier League and dreams of being a professional player.

He believed the program was helping him “become what I want to become.”

“That’s the biggest dream; to hopefully go over to England and play one day.”

Speaking to the students on Thursday, November 17, Moruya High School’s Aboriginal Education Officer, Joe Brierley, said their progress had deeply moved him.

“I see these lads growing everyday. I’m proud to see the lads becoming a lot smarter in their choices. The program looks at why our older Aboriginal men are the way they are, to this day, right back to colonisation and how to move forward,” Says Mr Brierley

Mr Brierley said he had taught his students some important life lessons, but had learnt something himself along the way.

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“There’s a lot of self-esteem problems within all students, a lot of lads that do attend the program have got problems, along with myself, so we just go on that journey together. We’re here to help them out, but they’re helping me.”

Program co-founder Tom Powell visited the group on Thursday to congratulated Mr Brierley and the boys.

“I haven’t had kids, but if I did, and they turned out like you fellas, I’d be that proud. I’m so glad to take the time to come back down here and witness what you’ve done,” Says Mr Powell

Mr Powell presented the boys with hats and certificates acknowledging their participation. Mr Brierly hoped to develop a girls healing program at the school in the near future


Story contributed by Martin Ind from Moruya High School. Story from Batemans Bay Post/ Moruya Examiner. Published in 2016.