Know Your Roots – Update

Know Your Roots logo

The Know Your Roots model and program has been identified as a tool that elicits belonging and participation, a stronger sense of worth, resilience in the acceptance-rejection parameters of legitimacy, an abiding sense of social justice and equity in the Social Cohesion through Education Program. It is an element of the Social Cohesion through Education Pilot Project.

The Know Your Roots program was developed to help individuals of ages reconnect with their Polynesian heritage, to assist in their transition to living and embracing of life in their new country and home Australia. The Know Your Roots program has been active in the lives of over 150 youth in the two years it has been running in the Goulburn Valley. The program is currently running in four local schools in Greater Shepparton, and results of the program are shared on a greater scale at the Pasifika Festival each year. Through the rich cultures shared, all are able to gather greater understanding of each other, enabling stronger unified community.


The Know Your Roots program is currently in Week 10 of activities and has seen over 150 children and youth be engaged in the program from the Pacific lslander community and community members from different ethnic backgrounds.

The program has been introduced into Gowrie Street Primary School for the first time and currently have 20 Gowrie Street Primary School students participating in the program, with 70% of those students being Australian and the other 30% have identified as being Aboriginal, Samoan, Tongan, Niuen, Turkish, Afghani and Albanian. 15 students from neighbouring Primary Schools have also joined at their own accord which has added not only to numbers but also to the atmosphere of learning and collaboration between different schools, different cultural backgrounds, languages to learn about a whole new culture or reconnect with the Samoan culture that is being learnt at Gowrie Street.

Local school teachers have reported how much the students have enjoyed the program and just how much they are able to learn given the opportunity to and the positive effect it is also having in the classroom for students in terms of excitement to be at school and participate. Claire who is assigned to oversee the running of Know Your Roots Program in school with Know Your Roots mentors has enjoyed watching the engagement students have had with one another through dance and song, and has also noted the change in engagement and communication between herself as a school teacher and parents of their students.

“It’s more open now, I feel like I can approach them and talk to them and they are now just saying hello and talking to me, even outside of Know Your Roots workshops…” (Claire – Gowrie St Primary School).

In the 10 weeks a core group of Know Your Roots students have been able to perform at the 2019 Miss Samoa Victoria Pageant and were able to travel with families and friends to share some of their learning in this space. They were able to showcase the various traditional costumes that they performed in which was a first for many and very excited trip for everyone involved.

Currently, all schools, students, mentors and support from a few community members from Samoan, Hawaiian, Tongan, Maori and Cook island community are about to embark in costume making for each culture group for each student and this is exciting but also one of the hardest part of culture as many of costume materials are sourced from their island home to create their authentic costumes. This creates a sense of belonging to the culture that one is learning about as well as illustrates respect, love and pride for the community that everyone will represent in their final presentation at the end of 15 weeks.


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