Culture and country come to school

Scott Darlow entertains the students.

By Danielle Kutchel

Armed with an acoustic guitar, a Yidaki/didgeridoo, a mic and a loop pedal, Indigenous singer-songwriter and activist Scott Darlow held students in thrall as a guest speaker at Hampton Park Secondary College.

Introducing himself to the students as “kind of like an undercover stealth mode Chuck Norris black man”, Mr Darlow even had the teachers in stitches with his witty recounts of his life experiences.

But there were serious messages underscoring the event: that everyone deserves respect, and that while life gets hard, you can make it.

At the presentation on Monday 1 February, Mr Darlow, a Yorta Yorta descendent, asked students for a bit of their time so he could share some of his culture with them.

Through original songs and covers, interspersed with stories, Mr Darlow did exactly that, providing insights into Australia’s history, Indigenous culture and respect for all races.

He recounted his life with his father, who worked with refugees, and the impact this has had on him.

Mr Darlow is now a World Vision Ambassador as well as an Indigenous activist and musician.

Through his work, he aims to spread the values of FLUTE, which stands for forgiveness, love, understanding, tolerance and empathy.

They’re important values for staff and students at Hampton Park Secondary College, according to Year 8 Student Learning Leader Brad Andrews.

“The aim for our staff and students is to show 10 percent more FLUTE in all settings,” he explained.

“The importance of cultural understanding and showing an appreciation and respect of our nation’s Indigenous peoples was something that we wanted to address throughout the year.”

The school has over 65 different nationalities represented in its student body and conducts ‘Welcome to Country’ messages at the beginning of each assembly and event, but hopes to better connect with country.

Students from local primary schools were also invited to listen to Mr Darlow’s message, to help build a sense of community.

“These messages shouldn’t be isolated to our school alone. This event was an opportunity to build those connections with our feeder primary school and to develop a shared understanding of culture and also why we do the ‘welcome to country’ at the start of each assembly,” Mr Andrews said.

The event was also an opportunity to remind students to make the most of their unique talents.

Mr Darlow said this is one of his key messages: “Figure out what your gift is, work your arse off every day … be the best you can be at that thing, and then, can you combine that with your passion and make a living out of it?”

He considers himself a walking example of that. Early in life, Mr Darlow exhibited a talent for music.

He’s passionate about making a difference for Aboriginal people, and said he is fortunate to be able to use his music as a vehicle for his advocacy and activism.

He still practises every day to stay at the top of his game.

However, his life hasn’t been without its struggles.

His father developed alcoholism, which impacted on Mr Darlow’s final years of school.

But he told students he was proud that when times were tough, he worked hard, finished school and went on to university to do a teaching degree.

“We should be telling kids, don’t give up, it’s going to be hard, you can have the world and it’s going to be awesome. It will be a grind – but you’ll get through it,” Mr Darlow explained.