SAN Clemente High students have celebrated Naidoc Week through dance performances and artwork, but their lessons about Indigenous culture permeate the curriculum year-round.
The Mayfield school's Aboriginal education teacher Bryan Rowe said 12 of the 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students spent three weeks learning a dance they performed in front of peers on Wednesday.
"It's a way to bring together the students and teach them more about their culture, but that's just the Aboriginal students who were involved," Mr Rowe said.
"Then for the rest of the students in the school - I know when I was growing up I never really saw people doing Aboriginal dance, still today it's a pretty rare occurrence - so we thought it would be a great thing to share with the students here and give them an appreciation of this aspect of our Aboriginal culture."
Mr Rowe said all the school's students contributed to an artwork that will be displayed in the school hall.
"It's important for us as teachers to present a different array of activities that might cater to different students' learning styles, abilities and interests," he said.
"Some of the students took part in the dance because they were more comfortable with doing that, while others didn't feel like getting up in front of people, so they might have been involved in some artwork."
Mr Rowe said he worked with teachers across the school to incorporate Aboriginal perspectives into classroom lessons through the year. "That could range from something to do with a science lesson, it could be talking about some sensitive issues in English texts," he said.
"We've used ochre today and I did a lesson with year eight science... we crush it down in class, talk about its uses, students put a bit on our arms and do a bit of artwork with it.
"That ties in with the syllabus, with the curriculum, but also when they see something like this and see Aboriginal people painting up, they understand where it's come from and that process and it adds depth to Aboriginal days like Naidoc Week, to make those rather than a standalone event, it builds up that knowledge base of everyone in the school."
He said it could be a "hard battle sometimes" for students to embrace their Indigenous background "because of the historical treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia, there's often a lot of shame in our kids and they don't want to be associated with their culture".
Mr Rowe said while some of Australia's Indigenous students still live on their traditional lands and can learn about their culture from country and their relatives, others in metropolitan areas don't get the same opportunities and can feel disconnected.
"Going into the classroom, having me stand beside the teacher and we talk about it seriously as a part of the curriculum, it demystifies it and it allows them to go 'Okay this is what it is, it's not airy fairy stuff, it's real practical information we can use and it's respected by our teachers in the school.
"When some of the kids see that they'll come out of their shell and come along to activities like dance and be involved in artworks and different things. It's really encouraging to see them do that and I just hope they carry it on with their kids in the future generations as well."
Mr Rowe said the theme of Naidoc Week, Always Was, Always Will be, is "a good conversation starter". He said it reflected caring for country and each other, as well as the importance of cultural and spiritual practices.
"Often when we say 'It's always been Aboriginal land' people go 'What's going to happen to my house?" he said. "For me personally it's more about our spiritual connection to the world and the earth and it doesn't matter what's happened, that's still alive and still with us and it always has been and always will be."