Gawura

Our people

Gawura has 10 First Nations staff members, including an Aunty and Indigenous elder who create authentic cultural experiences, for both students and staff alike.

Meet our Head of Gawura, John Ralph

John Ralph has been at St Andrew’s Cathedral School for over 20 years. He was previously at Barker College and the Department of Education, NSW. 

He was attracted to teaching because he enjoyed school as a student and loves working with young people, seeing them growing and accomplishing educational outcomes along their journey.  

An inspirational educational mentor for him has been Professor Chris Sarra. As Principal of Cherbourg State School, Professor Sarra was the first First Nations School Principal in Queensland and he’s also the founder of the Stronger Smarter Institute which grew out of his promotion of high expectations in learning and behaviour, based on strong, authentic relationships. 

John is passionate about being part of a wonderful team that is changing the educational outcomes and creating further opportunities for First Nations students at St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

In 2020, he received an Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) NSW Leadership Award. He was also honoured to be part of an exceptional team when Gawura was named the 2020 Australian School of the Year, at the National Education Awards. 

He helps First Nations students be the best that they can be, supporting the community at Gawura, and in the wider school. He oversees the daily operations of Gawura, including ensuring the Gawura bus runs effectively; developing initiatives such as cultural excursions and On Country Tours that promote and inspire students to cherish their First Nations heritage. He is currently leading the Waratah Project for the School: a Federal Government and AIS joint initiative to improve educational, student, relationship, staff and school outcomes in First Nations Education. Gawura is also the Lead or Hub School, for 4 other schools whose populations have high Indigeneity, located across NSW.

John loves the genuine care shown by all St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura staff–including the parent community–towards First Nations students and appreciates how St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura are deeply relational schools, where students are encouraged to flourish. Both his children have attended St Andrew’s Cathedral School in the Secondary School and his son Josh is the 2022 School Captain. 

He supports the Sydney Swans for AFL and the Rabbitohs in the NRL, loves infrastructure, music and travelling, especially being On Country around regional and remote Australia–his family loves a good road trip!

Our Ambassadors 

Pastor Ray Minniecon

In 2021, Pastor Ray Minniecon formed part of the Anglican Communion delegation welcomed to Glasgow for the United Nation’s 26th Climate Change Conference (COP 26). Pastor Ray, along with the Most Reverend Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury and other Communion members from around the world, were calling for effective action from the world’s most powerful leaders to tackle the climate crisis. Pastor Ray’s presence at the conference ensured the voices of Australia’s First Nations’ peoples were clearly heard regarding the need to protect our environment. “We need to have a seat at the table so that we can make sure they’re doing the right thing by our ancient wisdom, by our ancient knowledge, by our ancestors who looked after it,” Pastor Ray said.  

Currently, Pastor Ray is the Director of Bunji Consultancies, a production company that supports the development of First Nations film and documentaries and leadership and business initiatives with various public and corporate clients. Ray has worked with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney as Pastor and Director of Crossroads Aboriginal Ministries. He is the inaugural Chairperson of the Sydney Anglican Indigenous Peoples Committee, and a Council Member of St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

“To me personally, Gawura represents one of the most positive futures for our First Nations community in Sydney. These children are eager to learn, excelling in academic abilities, showing us that they want to achieve some big goals in their lives. They are my pride and joy.”

Pastor Ray is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi nation and the Gurang Gurang nation of South-East Queensland. He is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people with connections to the people of Ambrym Island.

Professor Larissa Behrendt

Prof. Larissa Behrendt is the Professor of Indigenous Research and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian. She also runs a radio program, Speaking Out, each Sunday on ABC local radio.

She has published numerous textbooks on Indigenous legal issues. She is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and a founding member of the Australian Academy of Law.

She was awarded the 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year award, and 2011 NSW Australian of the Year.

“I became involved with Gawura because I was interested in a model of education that focused on academic excellence within elite educational institutions but did not involve removing Indigenous children from their communities. Gawura has not only afforded Indigenous children the opportunity for a high quality education, it has fostered a relationship with the local Indigenous community through the families of those children.”

Professor Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai and Kamillaroi woman.

Mr Peter Warne

Peter Warne is an active member of the school community, being a former parent of the School and Chairman of the St Andrew’s Cathedral School Foundation. He is currently the chairman of Macquarie Group and is also chairman of ALE Property Group and OzForex Group and has one more term as an ASX director. He is a director of NSW Treasury Corp, a patron of the Macquarie University Foundation, and is on the Australian Office of Financial Management’s Advisory Board.

Expert Teachers

Gawura students receive support from specialist teachers and combine with the St Andrew’s Cathedral Junior School classes in Science, History, Geography, Music, Visual Arts, Drama, PE/Sport and Christian Development.

Our Staff

  • There are now 10 Indigenous staff in Gawura.
  • A full time Years 7-12 secondary mentor.
  • A part time Community liaison coordinator.
  • A Wiradjuri language teacher who teaches in both Gawura and the Junior School of St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

Individual and personalised learning plans

Student progress is assessed through both qualitative and quantitative measures and monitored through Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s), Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs) and ongoing tracking procedures. The assessment of students’ progress towards the achievement of the NSW Board of Studies requirements, content and skill acquisition, along with the development of values and attitudes, is ongoing.

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