Meet the Staff – Aboriginal Education Mentor, Matt Hammond

27 May, 2020

This month I’d like to introduce you to Matt Hammond, our Aboriginal Education Mentor.

Which Nation are you from?

My family is predominantly from the Anaiwan Nation and the rest of my family is Gumbaynggir Nation from Coffs Harbour.

What’s your role at Gawura?

I’m the Aboriginal Education Mentor. I work predominantly in the high school to overcome any obstacles that come between the students and their learning. It’s quite a broad role and expanded at the beginning of last year to include anything from academic to social and wellbeing. That includes the high reaching students and the ones who have a bit more difficulty.

What attracted you to this job?

It was all reasonably natural. My daughter started at Gawura in KG last year, she got a scholarship and I was coming along to reading groups, parent teacher meetings GPAC meetings. So I got to know John (John Ralph, Head of Gawura) pretty well and he got to know my history in Aboriginal education. One day he asked if I knew anyone that could fill the position (I think he secretly thought that I could do it). I know a lot of teachers but when I looked at the job description I saw that it was about the other side of education – culture, security, identity, everything apart from teaching. So I applied and I got the job.

What does your typical day look like?

I’ll come in and have a cup of coffee. Then I’ll go through attendance and the reports from the day before – these can include any behavioural infringements as well as any merits. That’s probably my only constant. I do spend a fair bit of the day one-on-one with students in various classes. Between those I’ve been doing some prep work for an art project that I’m planning. I’ll be making resources to imbed Aboriginal elements into the curriculum that can be anywhere from language to history, art, science, absolutely anything. Teachers will ask me to provide these and most of the time I’ll go off and do some research as there’s so much surrounding knowledge.

With all the students I have a case-by-case approach, so whatever need they have at any given time I’ll try and fill that need. So that means a fairly varies day and it also means I have something going with all of the students at any given time.

When did you start here?

End of term 2 in 2019.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

It’s not really measureable, but I do really like that point where a kid will get it. So, the other day I did a cultural art project with symbols and there was a Grade One kid asking about the different types of art work and I was explaining about the different colours and patterns that are used and the reasons why. And then he said “Oh so my nation does this for this reason”, you could just see that it had clicked in his head. And it’s not just cultural things, it could be when you see a kid just get it in maths.

 What were you like at school?

I was a happy participant. I was there for the social reasons; I really enjoyed being in groups with people. Didn’t enjoy the work as much but when I did I did pretty well. Got average marks, went through to Grade 12 – but that was because I was having a fun time. It wasn’t until after school that I actually got interested in working hard and education.

Who was your hero growing up?

Probably nothing beyond sporting heroes; Adam Gilchrist was my favourite cricket player and Brad Fittler was my favourite footballer.

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