The link between Scotch and the Tiwi Islands began in 1996 as a part of the Scotch College Football Program, whereby boys in Years 10 and 11 were eligible to participate in a footy trip to Darwin, which included a day playing teams on the Islands. This biennial trip remains central to the Football Program and is the highlight of many footballers’ Scotch experience. In return, groups of Tiwi boys come to Scotch for football carnivals and for longer exchanges. This contact has had a major impact on how members of the Scotch family understand Indigenous Australia.
After visiting Tiwi College in 2008, Principal Mr Tom Batty moved to establish the Indigenous Partnership Program at Scotch. While this includes young men working with Victorian Aboriginal groups, an important focus of the group has always been the strengthening of the bonds which connect the two schools. From time to time, teachers from Scotch have visited Tiwi College on exchange and vice versa; for example, in 2012, Ms Ailsa MacFie from Scotch College spent the year as the Senior School Women’s teacher at Tiwi College, and Mrs Stephanie MacKenzie completed her teaching practicum in the Prep classrooms at Scotch College.
Our relationship has now grown to include weekly on-line collaboration between boys from Scotch’s Indigenous Partnership Program and students from the Middle School Young Men’s class at Tiwi College. Students get to know and work with each other on a variety of projects using different web platforms. The program culminates in a week-long visit by Tiwi students to Melbourne as a reward for their hard work and commitment. While at Scotch they participate in classes with Year 8 boys as well as exploring wider Melbourne through a series of excursions.
Each year, a group of Scotch IPP boys travels to Tiwi College for a week collaborating with Tiwi students to conduct field work on country and learn local stories and culture from senior Tiwi teachers. Previous IPP boys who have visited the Tiwi Islands as part of our exchange program have become strong and effective advocates for Indigenous Australians in a variety of ways. The impact of the welcome received at Tiwi College continues to influence every aspect of their life journey. We believe our ongoing partnership with Tiwi College sets a new standard for Reconciliation in Australia.