The Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation (BMNAC) has been given the green light to open the Freedom School in 2022.

The Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School (GGFS) will teach kindergarten to Year 2 classes in both Gumbaynggirr language and English.

BMNAC CEO Clark Webb said the school is important on a number of levels.

“Firstly it is key to the revitalisation of the Gumbaynggirr language and culture,” he said.

“And Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that our children can attend a school that holds their culture in the highest regard.”

The school will be based in a building at the Coffs Harbour NSW TAFE campus, aiming to create a culturally safe space for students.

The teachers will also be able to take the children out on Country at the nearby Coffs Creek (Buluunggal) and the old camp.

“It’s our goal to create an environment that the children really want to be at school, it’s not a chore and parents aren’t pulling out their hair to get their children to school on a daily basis,” Webb said.

“It is really important for our kids to attend a school that really values their culture, so then they feel safe to be who they are.”

“For our children to express who they are as Goori people and be really proud of that is important to their self-esteem and also their educational outcomes.”

The GGFS will be NSW’s first bilingual school, joining the Northern Territory already having several established.

The GGFS will need to apply for a long-term permit next year, as initial approval is just for 12 months.

By Teisha Cloos