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The School

St John's Catholic Primary School is located in Footscray, 7 kilometres west of the central business district. It was established in 1922 as a church-school, built through the voluntary labour of parishioners. St John’s was under the guidance and leadership of the Sisters of St Joseph for 77 years up until 1999 when the first lay principal was appointed. The school is on a small inner suburban site that is utilised to create a positive learning environment.

The Project

In February, as part of Red Room Poetry's New Shoots project proud Gunai poet Kirli Saunders guided Years 3 and 4 students from St John's Catholic Primary School through a series of poetic workshops with Aunty Faye Stewart-Muir at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Victoria. The workshops, in association with RGBV, were dividedbetween these poetic exercises and programs exploring health and wellbeing in nature.  

Read the workshop poems here!

The Poet

Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and an award-winning international Children’s Author and Poet as well as a Teacher, and emerging Artist. She created and led Red Room Poetry's Poetry in First Languages program from its conception until July 2020. Her debut picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards and CBCA notables. Her poetry collection, Kindred was shortlisted for the ABIA 2020 Book Awards and FAB Booktopia Awards. She is the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award and University of Canberra ATSI Poetry prize (2019). She is an esteemed judge for the Val Vallis Poetry Prize. Kirli is the 2020 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.



Taking a dream from conception to delivery – Poetry in First Languages – Kirli Saunders