Lajamanu School score colourful new uniforms

Lajamanu School students will complete the 2017 school year in brand new school uniforms that feature the four Warlpiri skin group colours, dreaming stories and animal totem designs.

The idea for the new uniforms came from local Aboriginal school staff, who then worked with community elders to ensure designs were culturally appropriate.

The designs are part of the dreaming stories that belong to each of the groups and all have incorporated the animal totem for that group.

The uniforms are in the skin group colours, which are also the school’s house colours. The yellow design has the eagle, green the goanna, blue has an emu and the red group has a kangaroo.

Principal of Lajamanu School, Juliette Coco said the process was a real community effort.

“The new shirts look fantastic. The kids love them and they feel really proud,’’ Ms Coco said.

“They love wearing anything in their skin group colours and learn from a very early age about their skin group and the kinship system.

“The students can explain the relationships of their skin group and the relationships between the different groups as well as how they relate to each other,” she said. 

Ms Coco said they have had many people comment on the new uniforms. 

“Our students were even stopped at the airport by people saying ‘Wow, what amazing t-shirts’,’’ she said.

“Everyone in the community wants one, but you have to be a staff member or student to get one.”

Lajamanu Students Shontelle and Kamus love their new uniforms and the stories they tell.

“Our shirts are in our skin group’s colours which is really good. I’m Napaljarri which is yellow and we have our dreaming story on our shirts and mine is an eagle.” 12-year-old Shontelle said. 

“We recently got our new school shirts and I really like them. I wear green which represents my skin group and my name is Japanangka. On the shirt I have my skin group’s dreaming story of the goanna. We look very good and we are proud of wearing them,” 14-year-old Kamus said.

Minister for Education Eva Lawler said the new uniforms were a great example of schools and community working together.

“The Government believes in local decision making and that communities should have a strong say on how key services are delivered – including education,” Ms Lawler said.

“When schools and community work together, we see fantastic results, not just for education outcomes, but through a more vibrant community, family involvement and most importantly, happy kids.”

Once elders had approved design concept and symbols, it was a combined effort between school staff and local artist Gerald Watson to paint t-shirt designs on canvas before they were sent to a designer, who digitised them into files ready for printing.