Zoo Chat | Ten academies come together for three-day camp

GIRLS ACADEMY: A group of about 170 girls, and their development officers, from 10 Girls Academies across NSW visited the zoo.
GIRLS ACADEMY: A group of about 170 girls, and their development officers, from 10 Girls Academies across NSW visited the zoo.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a group of 170 girls and their development officers from 10 Girls Academies across NSW on Wednesday, who enjoyed a day of cultural activities and sightseeing.

The Girls Academy develops and empowers Aboriginal girls through leadership training, mentoring, sport and extracurricular programs.

This special event “Migay-Galang-Dabaamalang” was the first annual showcase, and included a three-day leadership camp and league-tag tournament for the girls, who came from Dubbo, Coonamble, Melville, Kempsey, Muswellbrook, Tamworth and Gunnedah.

While at Taronga Western Plains Zoo the girls also took part in cultural artistic activities at the zoo’s Sand Circle, and also participated in a Smoking Ceremony performed by Uncle Ralph Naden and Aunty Di McNaboe.

Senior Education officer Rebecca Nielsen said an important part of the day was a gathering at Billabong Camp.

This is where the girls, in their school groups, presented coolamons that they had created and designed.

“Representatives from each school group spoke about their Coolamon design and the stories they told,” Rebecca said.

“It was a really nice way to wrap up the day, and the program, and just brought everything together so well.

“Through the program the girls got a real sense of the strength of connection and the strength of women,” she said. 

“We hope they were inspired by each other, by their elders and by their mentors, the wonderful women who led the program.”

A chance to explore the zoo on what was a warm, sunny day was also another highlight for the girls.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to support this important cultural event for the NSW Girls Academy, as part of several community education programs here at the zoo.

ABOUT GIRLS ACADEMY

The Girls Academy is an initiative of Role Models and Leaders Australia (RMLA), a not-for-profit charitable organisation founded in 2004 by Olympian and champion basketballer Ricky Grace (MEdL, BPolSc).

The Girls Academy develops and empowers Aboriginal girls through leadership training, mentoring, sport and extra-curricular programs.

Their goal is to create an environment within schools where the girls receive the support and programs needed to help them realise their full potential.

The Girls Academy Program works within the school system to drive community-led solutions aimed at reducing the barriers that prevent Indigenous girls from completing their education and reaching their full potential.