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Waves of joy for six days at Wadandi Surf Academy

Suzanne AstonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Lee Hardesty having fun in the surf.
Camera IconLee Hardesty having fun in the surf. Credit: Scott Bauer Creative Supplied

For a group of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, a week in the surf was the most exciting of the school year.

The 15 students took part in the annual Wadandi Surf Academy earlier this month — an annual institution for students in the South West.

This year the students were from Busselton Senior High School, Cape Naturaliste College and Margaret River Senior High School.

The six-day long academy is designed to empower the students and forge a deeper connection to Saltwater Country and Wadandi Boodja.

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The academy was founded by George and Vilma Webb and championed by the Undalup Association Inc.

With the support of Gwen Gray, a local custodian and long-standing Aboriginal education liaison officer, the academy has grown.

The 15 participating students had spent the year working towards a place in the academy.

“Their places in the academy are earned thanks to good standing and school attendance,” Ms Gray said.

“Surfing is the vessel to get the kids to participate. ”

Over the six days in the academy, not only did they learn to surf and spend time in the water, but they also met inspirational locals.

The students spent time with Wadandi cultural custodians from Undalup Association and police officers.

This year, the academy has been made possible thanks to funding from local Aboriginal and family-owned business, Pindari.

Pindari covered the cost of transport, nutritious lunches, all of the hire equipment and surfing lessons with the Margaret River Surfing Academy.

Pindari founder and managing director David Pidek said Pindari supported a range of worthy causes in the communities it operates in, including the Pilbara, Perth and the South West.

“The academy’s aim to build self-esteem, increase school attendance and provide a strong link to culture and identity by creating a sense of purpose in students’ lives, is a great fit with Pindari’s organisational values,” he said.

The company also has an existing relationship and commitment with Busselton Senior High School through its Indigenous school-based trainee program.

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