Auslan meets Yawuru language in St Mary – St Joseph Catholic Primary School Maroubra’s virtual choir rendition of ‘I Am Australian’. Watch it here:

A group of 50 students in Years 3 to 6 at the school lent their voices to the virtual choir, singing Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton’s classic anthem ‘I am Australian’ in Yawuru – the Indigenous language of the Kimberley region.

Students also learned to sign the lyrics in Auslan (Australian sign language), thanks to their music teacher Rachel Scott.

They learned the song as part of St Mary – St Joseph’s extensive choir program.

It would have been performed at a NAIDOC assembly but the live event was twice cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead it was taken online.

This was a way of celebrating singing and learning, and producing something that would make the school community smile” – Principal John Farrell


“Learning language is so important for brain development; it’s also easy to do this through song,” said St Mary – St Joseph Principal John Farrell.

“I had met an (Aboriginal) Elder who gave us permission to teach the Yawuru verse, and our music teacher, Rachel Scott, had done some Auslan signing before. 

“The children loved learning both of these languages.”

Mr Farrell said St Mary – St Joseph’s had a rich history in singing and musicianship inspired by Mrs Scott from the Australian Children’s Music Foundation.

Sound engineer Ben Sibson created the backing track and students recorded their parts individually to contribute to the whole.

“Singing gives everyone a sense of community” – John Farrell

“This is something that has been lost during at-home learning, so this was a way of rebuilding this again,” Mr Farrell said. 

“The school community has loved it. Lots of congratulations, and lots of tears of pride too.

“Many students are incredibly proud of what they’ve done, and rightly so.”


Year 6 student Harry said he thought the project would be a good experience during lockdown.

“In my video it was hard not to smile, but I think it was good overall and I knew all the words,” Harry said.

“I thought the video was very well edited and everyone looked really confident.”

Sally, in Year 4, said she was excited to see how her recording appeared in the virtual choir’s final video.

“We sounded like we were not apart; we sang together in harmony and it was beautiful,” Sally said.


The virtual choir performance is just one of the innovative ways music lessons have been kept going during lockdown.

Between note-reading lessons, Year 1 students used a bowl and whisk, wooden spoons, jars filled with uncooked grains of rice, and upside-down buckets as makeshift percussion instruments.