A Victorian Indigenous outdoor education company gives students a lot more than just a walk through the bush.

Story Ken Eastwood

The problem with most outdoor-education programs is that they focus on physical achievement rather than an understanding of the environment, according to Shawn Andrews, managing director and founder of Indigicate, a successful Indigenous-owned education organisation in Victoria. Since it formed in 2015, Indigicate has educated more than 6000 school children, mainly in outdoor-education programs.

“Our programs differ from typical outdoor-education programs by focussing on understanding the country, rather than conquering it,” Shawn says. “People focus too much on the activity – ‘We’ve got to conquer that mountain’, rather than understand it. So in a six-day canoeing trip, the aim, say with Year 9, is to get all the way down the river by the end of the week, but if we don’t get that far it doesn’t matter.”

Shawn says this more relaxed way of viewing the activity is more of an Indigenous way of thinking. “Some mornings we might get 10 kilometres, sometimes only 2–3km,” he says. “The students can swim and fish as they go along, and that gives us opportunities to talk about bush tucker and about the country."

This story excerpt is from Issue #116

Outback Magazine: December/January 2018