Recently, close to sixty students and family members from Jesuit Social Services’ Settlement Program and Flemington Homework Club, gathered on Wurundjeri land to experience a Welcome to Country and play bush bingo and a scavenger hunt activity with an Indigenous lens.

Many Homework Club participants are newly-arrived students from migrant and refugee backgrounds, living in the Flemington area. For the Welcome to Country – which was adapted to be child-friendly – families sat in a circle in the shade of gum trees. Kimberley Malone, Coordinator of Jesuit Social Services’ Settlement program says, “it is not an easy task to settle this many young people, but once Wurundjeri Elder Thane started speaking, all eyes were on him.”

Afterwards, hands shot up to ask questions such as, ‘why aren’t there any koalas in Melbourne anymore?’, ‘why is it important to save animals?’, and ‘how do we say welcome in your language?’

The event was run in collaboration with Jesuit Social Services’ The Outdoor Experience, who led a nature play activity encouraging children to search for pictures of native animals hidden around the park, and learn Woi Wurrung words for different animals. At lunch, native food options were available for families to try.


Kimberley says the event was one example of the work Jesuit Social Services’ Settlement team are doing to grow participant and staff engagement with the First Nations and Wurundjeri histories and culture.  “Establishing a sense of place is fundamental to the settlement process for our newly-arrived families. Learning about the history, culture and custodianship of the Traditional Owners of the land can enrich that sense of place.”