When Tara Bennett (Class of 2022) returned to her local school in Sandringham
at the beginning of Year 9, she had no inkling her life was about to change
in a most unexpected way.

Tara Bennett, Foundation Scholarship recipient

Mid-way through Year 9, Tara joined Caulfield Grammar School as the first recipient of the Marion Orme-Foundation Scholarship, offered to a Middle School student with all-round ability in leadership, character and academics with a focus on STEM subjects.

Tara made the most of this wonderful opportunity, spending her Senior School years at Caulfield Grammar and recognised for her leadership as House Co-Captain in Year 12, 2022. 

In 2023 Tara successfully applied to be one of our Year 9 Kakadu Program trainees, supporting almost 400 Year 9 students as they experienced the incredible program Caulfield Grammar offers in the NT.  

Tara’s experience in Kakadu has been transformational for her. When asked about the impact it has had for her personally, her response was a terrific example of the impact this program is having on our School leaders.  

“Being immersed in an environment rich in culture has allowed me to learn a great deal of information about the world’s oldest living civilisation. I have been able to deepen my knowledge of Indigenous living, learning about language, country and connection to one another. To be able to be taught about culture has been a great privilege that I will forever be grateful for, as it has broadened my perspective in relation to our First Nations people, especially the Mirarr, Jawoyn and Larrakia people.

“Being able to learn from Elders and other individuals who we have connected with in Kakadu has provided such an amazing opportunity to broaden my understanding and personal perspective. Coming from someone who has lived in a metropolitan area for their entire upbringing, to be engaged in such a generous and compassionate community has increased my love for small town living.” 

Likewise, Tara’s thoughts on the impact it is having on our Year 9 students are a brilliant endorsement for the cultural immersion intent of the Kakadu program. 

“This program allows students to reflect not only on their current identity, but also on who they can become. It provides students with the space to grow as individuals and the time to reflect on their attributes and values, which combine to form their character. Being able to visit a place of such beauty and cultural significance enables students to develop a better understanding of our nation’s identity and heritage, through connection to people, places and culture.” 

Finally, Tara’s considered views on the impact of our partnership with the local community highlights the care and respect we must maintain for people of Jabiru and surrounding communities:  

“My hope is that the program has a positive and sustainable impact on the community of Jabiru and surrounds. We don’t want to come into this area and have a large footprint from the get-go but rather build from the ground up, creating connections with local organisations and key stakeholders in the community to establish deeper relationships. By forming heartfelt and sincere relations with community members, we all benefit on a greater scale for the best outcomes in the long term.”  

Tara Bennett, Kakadu Program Trainee (left) and Sasha Byrnes, Remote Programs Teacher, at Ubirr in Kakadu, Northern Territory