The Learning Stones initiative was developed and created by John Murray in early 2011. Learning stones is the result of community consultations which identified several gaps for Indigenous families in the educational sector. Learning stones benefits are numerous and varied from creating a safe place for reflection, a place to acknowledge significant days on the Indigenous calendar or to help support educational transitions for Indigenous families. The true value of creating a Learning stones site is the process, the communication with stakeholders,engaging community and Elders,developing a shared understanding and a commitment to uphold the integrity of Indigenous practice, lifestyles and their people.         

July 2017 Learningstone – Breaking ground  

Our spirits were high and the expectation was great as we weathered a cold wintry Melbourne afternoon in the inner metro suburb of Prahran the location of our newest site. 
It was a excellent turn out with community members joined by local service providers all of whom took part in a traditionally Welcoming and Smoking ceremony performed by BoonWurrung descendant Marbee Williams.
Marbee did a fantastic job leading the gathering through the cultural ceremony, by cleansing and preparing the ground for the ongoing development of the site.
As part of the ceremony the ashes from the first Smoking were buried at the site as a sign of respect for the traditional owners and as a invitation for a new educational journey for all.
In the lead up to the launch the process is the key, the conversations with local Indigenous communities, Schools, Kindergartens, and Community Learning Center will assist in creating something which is unique and representative of community inspiration and aspirations. 
I would like to acknowledge and thank the Horace Petty Estate residents and the working committee for inviting Learningstones to become part of their community. Through locally formed and supported community partnerships we can create opportunities for our young people to be connected and succeed.

pictured below are several photos of the days event




Yiruk Wamoon – (Wilson’s Prom) October 2016

Cold, windy and wet conditions couldn’t dampened  our spirits as we added the finishing touches to the Learningstones in the form of a plaque. . With the sign in place, visitors to this site can be directed to the L/S website. A big thank you to Paul Johnson for his handy work and also his constant support and friendship over many years.

Thanks to Milkins Engraving and Trophies for the fantastic work on the plaque.

We were joined  at site by Brian and Kane and their sons Jasper and Ryan – students from local primary at Foster

The Fed Training center Leongatha was asked to greet a visiting cohort of Chinese principal staff recently. We gathered together in our Learningstone site on campus to Acknowledge the traditional owners and their spiritual home lands. This created a fantastic opportunity to share the concept of Learningstones with our visitors and perform a smoking to set the climate for the day ahead.
The below text is part of the invitation I received to do Acknowledgement to Country.
Thanks Sue, Brittany,Wayne, Rob and Simon
Dear Principals
I am delighted to let you know that we have been invited to host a Principal forum for a delegation of 23 visiting principals from the Hangzhou region in China. The delegation comprises of six principals from primary schools, 12 principals from secondary schools and five principals from both primary and secondary schools.
This event will be an opportunity for participating principals of sister schools in our region to meet with the principals, share experiences and learn from each other. A particular topic of discussion will be ‘Challenges for learning-preparing young people for the new world’
Simon Hamilton | Acting Area Executive Director – Inner Gippsland
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Sorry Day 2016

A cold wet wintry day could not dampen the enthusiasm or anticipation of hundreds of students across Bass Coast and South Gippsland. The insistent rain may have hindered our planned gathering at the Learningstone site however the day’s event went ahead regardless as some schools remained indoors and others ventured outside. The Learningstone spirit which was the catalyst that enabled us to gather individually as a collective across the region. Collaboratively we created a forum, a presence to acknowledge and share time together in remembering this highly significant time for our Indigenous community.

pictured below

South Gippsland Secondary College

Inverloch PS

Newhaven PS

Tarwin Lower PS

Welshpool PS

San Remo PS

Wonthaggi PS

Nyora PS

Toora PS

Bass Coast Childrens Centre








Sorry Day falls on 26th of May each year and this year throughout the South Gippsland/ Bass Coast Educational precinct we would like to acknowledge the Apology and the journey of indigenous people both locally and nationally. Location, access and resources are always a challenge but I believe collaboratively we can make a powerful statement and influence not only our own patch but the rest of SEVR. My proposal is this – students from each school make cut out hand prints with colourful designs and attach these to a paddle pop stick. On the 26th May at 9.15am simultaneously we all meet at our own schools Learning Stone site to plant the hand prints. A short presentation (meaning of Sorry Day – find notes attached ) to the school assembly by school leaders, take photos, and quotes/quips and send them to to upload on both Learningstone website/FACEBOOK.

I will contact you individually to see how we can work together, and we can also make media contact to promote our initiative.

Below is a photo of Nyora PS students along with school Principal Mick Hussey who kindly agreed to test run the hand print

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What a privilege to join with South Gippsland Specialist School as they celebrated the opening of their learning stones today. It has been 3 years in the making with a lot of help from community, parents and friends but the journey has certainly been worth the investment. The story pole painting, design and placement was done by students from both Yooralla and South Gippsland Specialist School. Indigenous students TJ Anderson and Jordan Byrnes from Leongatha Secondary College spoke to the gathering – giving a meaning of Acknowledge to Country and Smoking ceremony. Well done boys, TJ and Jordan both spoke well and I know they will only grow strong in their culture and identity. The opening ceremony was fantastic and the lunch which was prepared by the students was simply mouth-watering, burgers, quiche and carrot cake decorated with the Indigenous flag.
Pictured below Principal Heather Braden, TJ Anderson, Jordan Byrnes, 





We like to include other schools in the area to attend the ceremony. Indigenous primary school students, their friends and teachers also came today for the Learningstones opening at the Dudley Campus. They were from Wonthaggi Primary school and Wonthaggi North.

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Mr Brian Paynter MP Local member for Bass, Hon.Heidi Victoria MP Member for Bayswater, Shadow Minister for Arts & Cultural Tourism & Major Events Aboriginal Affairs, (who mentioned she was very impressed) Cr Jordan Crugnale Bass Coast Mayor, Principal Ross Bramley Dudley Campus, and Phoenix Byrnes-Davies McBride Campus student – raised the Indigenous flags prior to the smoking ceremony at the LS site.


Boon Wurrung descendant and local artist Steve Parker’s presentation was top class, he shared a taste of local Indigenous history and culture with the audience hanging on every word.

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Fantastic work guys – pictured are our young Indigenous leaders Lily and Phoenix who starred in a lead role by their opening address to kick off Wonthaggi Secondary School Dudley Campus Learningstone Opening . Both Lily and Phoenix spoke well and thanked all those involved in the development of the site, and the benefit,value and ongoing use of the site in their school.





Powlett River PS


Newhaven PS

End of year Celebrations for a great effort …… At the start of this year I promised the Koorie students a day trip as part of our working group. The kids were fantastic and their resilience and character always inspires and encourages. Our goal was a day trip involving 2 schools and along the way that became 4. We started at Wonthaggi PS Learning stone site then onto Learning Stone sites for pick up at Powlett River PS to San Remo PS then finally to the Newhaven PS learning stone site. With 50 students, 3 Principals, 2 teachers and a KESO in tow off we went.


Many thanks to Noel Sibly at Bass Coast Regional Health for financing the bus, without him we wouldn’t have had the wheels to travel.


Wonthaggi Secondary College (Dudley Campus) official opening ceremony Monday 30th November 10.45 am 2015.
I would like to acknowledge Principal Ross Bramley who has tirelessly supported and championed the project for the past few years, working with many staff and students over this time – thanks Ross. Excellent location, to the left of the main admin building and is in the center of the roundabout in the main driveway to the campus. Thank you to local fencing contractors Terry Watson and David Garry who generously gave their time to position the totem poles. Sensational effort and well done to all the students for their amazing artwork and the time, thought and care they have put into making this a site of significance.



Hi my name is Tyson and I’m in Year 9 at Wonthaggi, My pole is all about being proud and I put my tribe down on it. My tribe is Yorta Yorta.

Hi my name is Adam, I’m Year 9 at Wonthaggi Secondary College. My pole show the spirit god looking over the Bass Coast waters and flowing nutrients and keeping the marine life healthy.
Hi my name is Phoenix and I am in Year 9. The thing that inspired me to do what I did is because I am really strong about my religion and the snake on my pole represents how strong the people are.

Learning stones workshop Thursday 3rd Dec
Launch of the Learning Stones site Friday 4th December.

Please visit 
for booking, accommodation, gala dinner and many other workshops over the 3 days – see you there


Luke Johnson and John Murray at the Learning stone site at Yiruk Wamoon (Wilson’s Prom)

Three totem poles at Yiruk Wamoon (Wilson’s Prom) for the Deadly in Gippsland – Connected – Conference

Learning Stones totem – She Oak
Bunurong/ BoonWurrung totem – Banksia
Gunai/ Kurnai totem – Tea Tree

These three woods were chosen because of their significance to the area and the local tribes. The wood was used for artifacts, tools and weapons. They are strong, beautiful woods perfect for the Yiruk Wamoon Learning stone space.

Luke Johnson Traditional Owner
Ranger Parks Victoria

The Learning Stones site provides a living local resource to assist and provide a better cultural understanding and a great place to start for teachers in their delivery of indigenous content.

A creation of Koorie Engagement Support Officer for DEECD in South Gippsland, John Murray, the Learning Stones project was designed to create an indigenous cultural safe space for awareness and community participation and proudly funded by the School Focused Youth Service program.

Learning Stones’ goal is to develop a cultural perspective as well as a physical site by initiating a dialogue to tackle the gap within indigenous education. Learning Stones is a tool for the indigenous workforce to assist in their engagement and support of students, families, school and local community. This collaborative initiative involves all sectors of our community working together to ensure that we develop a lasting legacy that will unfolding in a respectful and meaningful way.

John Murray

To date the Learning Stones initiative has been embraced by both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous in our school and local communities. Presently there are over 50 sites in various stages of development with 6 Openings scheduled for later this year. Learning Stones is gathering support across the South East region with sites in Bass Coast, South Gippsland, Mornington Peninsula, Latrobe Valley in many of our Kindergartens, Primary and Secondary College and community centers. For any information please contact John Murray at


What a great race to the finish line for LS in 2014. In the last four weeks of term 4 we have had 7 more official opening ceremonies. Thank you, it has been a pleasure and joy to work with you all. Rest well and come back refreshed and let us see what we can do together in 2015

Hasting Primary School 28th November 9.15am

We know all of our students are very connected to the cultural experiences they have participated in, because everyone had a part to play, not just our Koorie students.
Sue Lyons – Principal Hastings Primary School

Tarwin Lower PS 3rd December 10.30am

One of my parents commented on how excellent that it was the children were being taught how to throw a boomerang by a traditional user
Sharyne Munday – Principal Tarwin Lower and District Primary School

JLM Kindergarten Corinella 4th December 12.30pm

We believe that this ongoing resource will be invaluable to our local community

Kerri and Annette – JLM preschool Corinella

Bass Valley Primary School 4th December 1.30pm

Our students love making use of the space as a place to reflect, share stories and learn about indigenous culture and history.

Craig Liefting Bass Valley Primary

Nyora Primary School 8th December 10.30am

Experiencing the smoking was great as were the related art work and dance. It will be a day they remember for a long time to come

Mick Hussey – Principal Nyora Primary School

Loch Primary School 8th December 1pm

It is a place that links not only our past, but our future as well.

Sharon Mitchell – Acting Principal Loch Primary School

Cowes Kindergarten 12th December 10am

This journey has already shown how communities can come
together to create a special place for all.

*Karen Treppo – Coordinator* Phillip Island Early Learning Centre