Surfers in Australia learn about Indigenous culture to encourage diversity in the sport

Students, teachers and others posing for a group photo.
Students, teachers and others posing for a group photo. Copyright AuBC via AP
By Rosie Frost with AP
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Students surfers are being taught about the rich history of their local surf breaks.


Professionals and local police in Western Australia have joined in with an initiative combining surfing with lessons on Indigenous culture.

It has been designed to help young Noongar people, an Aboriginal Australian group who live in the south-west corner of the state, to learn about their ancestry.

"They are not just learning about surfing, they are learning about culture, they're learning about who they are as people and that really shows in their nature as well," says Gwen Gray, a teacher at Busselton Senior High School.

"To be starting off as quiet young students to really getting out there and asking questions and passing on that knowledge at school as well has been the biggest thing I've seen in growth with them."

For the police officers involved, it is a chance to form bonds with the students. They weren't receptive at first, but as the weeks have gone on a relationship has started to build.

Professional surfer, Taj Burrow believes lessons like this are something that should be included for all students.

"It's a shame that it's not in the standard education curriculum because it is truly incredibly important to have that connection to country."

As awareness of Indigenous culture grows, it is highlighting the importance of representation in the sport. The Indigenous ceremonial, 'Welcome to Country', now opens surfing competitions across the state.

"Embedding this in our sport and making it something that we are really proud of moving forward, we don't want it to be a drop in the ocean, we want it to be a wave of change that sweeps right across the country," says Justin Majeks, from Surfing Western Australia.

The programme is set to be expanded to other schools in the state later this year.

To find out more about this unique surfing initiative, press play on the video above.

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