Immersion Programs

St Mary’s proudly offers the Year 11 cohort the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in three Justice Immersion Programs. The carefully planned and interactive student involvements in these programs go toward enhancing our student’s values of justice and outreach and expanding the College’s relationships with domestic and international communities and cultures.

Each of the experiences, in unique ways, are transformative experiences for the young people and staff involved and the staff who accompany them. 

An application and interview process allows students to be chosen to engage in one of the following programs:

The Oak Valley Maralinga-Tjarutja Lands Immersion, which usually takes place in Term 3, is a chance for students to attain knowledge and understanding of the community and culture of the Anangu people.

Oak Valley is a remote Aboriginal community located in the far western region of South Australia in the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands, bordering the Great Victoria Desert. Oak Valley was established in 1985 as a community for the Anangu people due to displacement from the Maralinga Lands after the British atomic tests.

The students and staff who participate in this immersion experience have the opportunity to build relationships with the Anangu people of Oak Valley, particularly with the students through their involvement with the school.

The trip also provides the opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of the Anangu people and gain a deeper understanding of their connection to land. We do not go there to help, but to be with and learn from the Anangu people. This experience broadens the students' sense of reality and allows them to develop an appreciation for the Anangu way of life.

The Cambodia Immersion Trip is a chance for students to become immersed in situations that frame their perspectives of justice, charity and compassion while enhancing the English speaking and writing skills of young Cambodians.

Students and staff travel to the city of Battambang, Cambodia, the capital of Battambang Province in the country’s northwest. Cambodia has struggled for two decades to reconstruct the essential elements of their society, particularly their education system, since the genocide of two million (25%) of the country's population in the 1970s. Cambodia has struggled with social, political, and economic upheaval since the tragedy.

The primary focus of our trip is on servicing the community and working with students and teachers in a variety of settings in Battambang. Several days are devoted to working with Cambodian teachers, students and children who are supported by the Providence Sister, under the guidance of Sister Sopheak and the Friends For All Children Foundation.

St Mary's staff and students spend time with approximately 85 academically capable students aged from 6 to 20 years of age, conduct English workshops with Battambang teachers and visit nearby villages where educational quality and facilities are significantly inferior and poorly resourced. Most importantly, the experience enables students to interact with the culture and society of Cambodia, gaining an understanding of the vibrant country and developing an appreciation of its history, geography, people, and lifestyle.

Since 2005, St Mary's College students have participated in a 15-day immersion trip to Vietnam. The trip is a chance for students, as individuals and as a group, to discover strengths, limitations and goodwill in lending service and compassion to the Phu My Orphanage. 

The Phu My Orphanage is located in the Thi Nghe District of Saigon, Vietnam. The Orphanage was founded in 1875 and is operated by the Sisters of St Paul de Charters, who provide care for over 300 young people ranging from 2 to 35 years of age.

Students participate in a range of activities and are immersed in the day-to-day operations of the Orphanage. Our students provide assistance to the orphaned, disabled children of Phu My. Students also attend the Orphanage farm in Bao Loc for coffee harvesting, learning resilience, perseverance, and farmhand knowledge.

The Iga Warta Immersion is a biodiversity and conservation trip.

The Iga Warta Immersion was first run in 2021 as a response to cancelling the Oak Valley trip due to COVID, and as a result of large student interest, the College was able to participate again in 2022. This trip will continue to be offered each year to students studying Biology and / or students involved in the eco-life of the College.

Students will have the opportunity to experience Adnyamathanha culture and learn more about their story and their history, while working in partnership with the Adnyamathanha people to contribute to biodiversity and conservation on their country. This is an exciting new initiative with the potential for a long-term partnership and connection, where we can contribute to building sustainability and ecojustice.