Student Jalen wins the Indigenous Boarding Awards

We are thrilled to announce that finalist, Jalen (Year 11) has won the Indigenous Boarding Awards for the category: Exceptional Contribution to the Community by an Indigenous Boarding Student. Students nominated for this award actively engage in their community and contribute to either their home community or school boarding community. 

A boarder at Guildford Grammar School since Year 7, Jalen has been a valued member of the boarding community. Now in Year 11, Jalen has structured a template for cultural safety within boarding, which will assist future Indigenous students for years to come.

With the construction of the new Boarding House which has recently been completed in March 2021, Jalen wanted to create an environment where Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and staff, could acknowledge, learn and reflect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Over the last year, Jalen has worked tirelessly, in his own time, to review the architectural plans of the new boarding facility and determine low cost initiatives that could be implemented on its completion. His research on boarding facilities throughout the world, mainly Canada and Australia, and their efforts in establishing culturally safe spaces has aided Jalen in constructing a series of plans and initiatives that will service the new boarding facility.
A key focus area of Jalen’s research is linking his own understandings of spatial habitation from an Indigenous perspective and how it could be incorporated within a western, and predominantly Anglo Saxon, architectural space. Each summer holiday, Jalen would return north to the Pilbara and participate in ceremony, dissecting the strict protocols in place and how they have effectively serviced the Indigenous community for thousands of years. Jalen began to take note of how the traditions and customs of his people could be incorporated to his home away from home and lessen the burden of homesickness, and cultural misunderstandings, for other regional students. Soon enough Jalen had created a series of plans, initiatives and proposals, in collaboration with the School’s Indigenous Program Coordinator, that could be presented and reviewed by the Head of Boarding. Jalen’s key points for cultural safety are outlined below:

  • “Be informed by the land”
  • “Incorporate local plants and vegetation”
  • “Have a fire”
  • “Learn about each other”
  • “Leave a legacy”
  • “Be flexible”
  • “Paint, draw and yarn”
  • “Learn language and stories”
  • “Heal country”

With each key point there are a series of initiatives that follow, requiring buy in from stakeholders, student bodies and senior leadership teams. All of Jalen’s initiatives have been granted and approved with a majority of ideas to be completed before the end of calendar year.

With a large proportion of the proposed work to be completed by the Schools very own Boodjar Bidi Youth Group, Jalen has proven his leadership skills time and time again. His work in leading a series of paintings and sculptures to be displayed within the boarding house, and in public galleries and settings, has been time consuming, however, Jalen is determined to encourage his peers to leave their legacy behind. Jalen’s selflessness and contributions to Guildford Grammar School have been exceptional, and we are so proud of his efforts to support his community and lead the way towards reconciliation and inclusivity. 
Well done Jalen, we are so proud!