Year 4 Students Design New Leadership Shirts to Celebrate First Nations Culture

A group of Primary School students in Year 4 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College are experiencing the thrill of fashion design with their first t-shirt design approved for production and to be worn by every student in Year 6 in 2024.

The successful pitch was by students Charlotte B, Stella B, Charlie C and Sienna J who suggested refreshing a popular Primary School uniform item - the Year 6 leadership t-shirt - to feature the College’s specially commissioned reconciliation artwork, which is part of the school's reconciliation journey.

The group officially presented their idea at a student assembly on Monday, 30 October.

The design thinking project was part of a learning unit in the Flinders i-Impact curriculum, which invited all Year 4 students to ideate ways to celebrate and acknowledge First Nations culture within the College campus. 

In creating their prototypes, students had to follow the Flinders i-Impact design thinking model: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. 

The College artwork, titled 'Surrounded by our past, united by our future', was created by David Williams, founder of Gilimbaa creative agency and a proud Wakka Wakka man and artist.

The Design Thinking Process: Students share their collaborative journey 

Flinders Head of Primary Mrs Trudi Edwards invited the students with the winning pitch to discuss the process with artist David Williams via Webex on Wednesday, 18 October. 

The students were not only excited to be in the College’s boardroom but also eager to personally thank David for his permission to use his artwork.

David asked the students to tell him about their design journey, including the challenges and rewards.

Charlie said, “Well, to start with, we copied other designs, which wasn’t ok, obviously! So we had to think again. That’s when we started using the Procreate digital illustration app to draw our ideas from scratch.

“Then we decided to feature elements of the College’s special Gilimbaa reconciliation artwork on sports uniforms worn by our Flinders Firsts Netball and Rugby players, because they are great sports people in our College and make us all proud. 

“But as we did more research, we realised that those particular sports uniforms are only worn on match days, and the sporting events are mostly held off campus,” he said.  

“And since the goal was to bring First Nations culture alive within our campus, we changed our idea to focus on the Year 6 leadership shirts.” 

Sienna said, “Our Year 6 students wear their leadership shirts many times throughout their final year of Primary School for special House and College events and team-building activities. The shirt signifies that they are leaders and uphold our College values of compassion, courage, integrity and respect.”  

Charlotte said, “For the t-shirt design, we chose the Gilimbaa artwork’s ‘reconciliation’ symbol, because that’s what we are committed to as a College: reconciliation. 

“We wanted other design elements but the shirt was starting to look too busy, and we wanted to respect the artwork by not having elements placed upside down and by not having too many of them.

“We also chose the artwork’s ‘academic excellence’ symbol, because we are an academic school.”

Stella explained to David the learning rationale behind wanting to acknowledge First Nations culture at the College and keep the traditions alive at Flinders. 

David said, “I love your ideas! And I especially like the way you have considered and followed the Gilimbaa style guide, which is very respectful to the artwork and to me as the artist.” 

He asked the students, “What will you think when you see the Year 6 leadership shirts with your design being worn by the students next year?

Sienna said, “I will think: Wow we made that!”

Stella said, “We will feel honoured that we created that together!”

Mrs Edwards said, “I’ll think of the way the students have collaborated and how we are ‘better together’.

“And I trust that when our Year 6s wear their leadership shirts next year, they will feel connected. 

“David, we hope you’re proud of how this group has collaborated and used your creativity to help our community celebrate First Nations culture across the College.” 

During the design process, the students had tested their ideas with members of the Flinders Uniform Shop team.

The team had helped the students adapt their ideas to meet the school uniform guidelines and what was possible for the suppliers, noting, “These students have had the foresight to celebrate art and First Nations culture in our school through the uniform, which will hopefully inspire other students to explore ways to positively impact our College community and the wider community.” 


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