A new Christian school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

It began with a dream – to create a school for their people on Worimi Country, immersed in their culture and language and with a dedication to high academic standards. This week that dream came to life with the launch of St Philip’s Christian College Gilbaa.

The school was initially approached by Peter Berkley from the National Indigenous Education Partnerships in 2019. This was followed by conversations with the Yadha Muru Foundation, led by prominent Aboriginal community leader, Sean Gordon and UNSW’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous, Prof Leanne Holt.

Worimi Elder Aunty Lorraine Lilley reflected on the significance of this moment and the progress that has been made in providing children with this valuable educational experience. 

One or two generations back the Worimi people of Port Stephens, under the Aborigines Protection Board, were restricted to primary level education only. Not to mention our traditional language was prohibited. Aboriginal history and culture was not taught in schools until recently. Now we are discussing bilingual education. This is an amazing development. Local Worimi Elders will be thrilled to know that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have the opportunity to learn in a first-class environment. Well done and congratulations for being bold enough to bring this exciting project to our community.

Gilibaa means ‘The Place of Light’ and the prayer of the community at St Philip’s is that the school will be a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will have the opportunity to develop not just in education but in local Aboriginal culture founded on a Christian ethos. Students will learn in both English and their Gathang language and be part of the broader community of faith at St Philip’s.

Nadine Russell is a Worimi Registered Owner, Worimi LALC Board Member and Knowledge Holder. She is also thrilled to see this new school established:

This is a great thing for our community. Our kids will be receiving the best of both worlds. To be able to learn in both English and our Gathang language is truly special. Our kids will grow up speaking our language and then teach their family at home, our language begins to thrive again. My hope for this school is to instil in our kids the sense of cultural strength and high educational morals. We are teaching the next leaders in our community and I fully support what they are trying to achieve. I know our old people would be proud.

St Philip’s Christian College Gilibaa is one of many Christ-centred schools that have a dedicated focus on or high enrolments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Others include:

Christian schools are making a difference in the lives of indigenous Australians and their families. 

My Christian School is a grassroots movement of Australians who want to pass on this good news to future generations.

Subscribe to updates and show your support.

Show your support

Want Christian teachers to keep making a difference?
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.