As part of the 2023 Study Melbourne Inclusion Program (SMIP), Laneway Learning delivered a series of curated free workshops for more than 115 international students to discover, play and connect with native plants, food, bees and more.

Aside from facilitating a connection with nature, the workshops were created to increase international students' mental wellbeing, promote lifelong learning and encourage connections among participants.

The workshops were the following:

Native Plant Bush Dyeing

Indigenous peoples have been carrying out native bush dyeing for thousands of years and then passing on this knowledge. The workshop was facilitated by Kylie – a proud Darug and Wiradjuri First Nations person who is also a certified nature-based Therapist. Kylie guided the students through different plants to create organic dyes.

Introduction to Bush Foods & Native Plants

International students discovered the intriguing world of Australian native plants and bush foods. They learned about plants and food sources from the local area and further afield in Australia, from the more tropical areas to the spices and food sources inland.

Native Plant terrarium making

The students learnt about native plants in Victoria by making a native plant terrarium to take home. They learned how to create a closed ecosystem as well as which native plants are suited for terrariums.

Nature Journaling

Nature Journaling is all about observing, being with and enjoying nature. Through this mindful practice, the students gained many mental health benefits.

Watercolour for beginners: Native flowers

Creative practices are a fantastic way to de-stress and express yourself! The students learned some basics of using this medium and went home with their first painting of Australian native flowers.

Bee a Pollinator! Learn all about Native Bees

Students discovered how to spot a native bee, understood their important role in pollinating garden veggies, and learned how to create the ultimate native bee paradise for these intriguing little pollinators in the gardens.

One of the students commented:

I truly loved the class. I felt more connected to Australian culture.

Maria Yebra, General Manager of Laneway Learning commented:

Laneway Learning applied for the SMIP grant to provide programs that were specifically focused on international students. As a charity with very tight resources, receiving the SMIP grant allowed us to offer an exclusive program of native nature classes with zero costs to the students.

We have received lots of feedback about how these workshops have positively impacted the international students' mental health and wellbeing and many continue to come to our regular classes, especially during exams. For Laneway Learning, it was very beneficial to allow us to share Victoria’s native nature with international students, catering to their needs and curating the program specifically for them.

The SMIP forms part of Victoria's International Education Recovery Plan 2025 to support international students in Victoria and provides funding for activities that support and promote the wellbeing of international students and enhance their experience living in Victoria.