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Dr Wayne Atkinson
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A pioneering Indigenous education program that immerses University of Melbourne students in the Yorta Yorta land, culture and history is marking its 10th anniversary.

'On Country Learning' was created in 2003 by Dr Wayne Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta elder and Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne's School of Social and Political Science.
 
The annual, intensive subject uses a traditional "story line approach" to teach local and international students about the legal, political and artistic endeavours of north-east Victoria's original inhabitants.
 
"This method of teaching is an adaption of old and new ways of learning about the antiquity of Aboriginal heritage," Dr Atkinson said.
 
Teaching staff link traditional stories with tangible evidence of Yorta Yorta occupation and historic places, like Cummeragunja Station (the location of Yorta Yorta writer Tony Briggs' hit film, The Sapphires.)

Dr Atkinson said the subject and teaching style had struck a chord with students.

"We've achieved near perfect scores on student feedback forms."
 
"It's really valuable to get the students out of Melbourne and into the area they are trying to understand."

This year's course will run from February 3rd—8th in the scenic Barmah-Millewa Forest National Park, north-east of Echuca.

Participants are hosted by the Yorta Yorta community, and visit local organisations and key Indigenous programs across the Murray-Goulburn region.

The week will culminate in a community celebration with food, dancing and music (Feb 7th).

This year's teaching staff includes:

Dr Wayne Atkinson
Lou Bennett Indigenous musician, formerly of Tiddas but now touring with Black Arm Band performances.  
Shane Charles Yorta Yorta history and culture specialist, and didgeridoo musician.
Peter Ferguson Yorta Yorta elder and lecturer in Indigenous Rural Health Studies & Strategic Development Research at the Department of Rural Health.