National Reconciliation Week 2016
Our History, Our Story, Our Future: National Reconciliation Week 2016
‘As Australians, we are all here, woven into this country. As part of our reconciliation journey, there are truths to tell, stories to celebrate and relationships to grow. Reconciliation is at the heart of our nations’ future.’
There is no doubt that I feel very fortunate to be an Australian, albeit a first generation Australian in my family. This is where I belong. I have had wonderful opportunities to travel widely throughout this vast country, through deserts and out to the sea, following the roads and destinations described in the lyrics of so many Midnight Oil songs! I have my favourite destinations where I feel my ‘spirit of place’ and I have been privileged to be welcomed onto country by indigenous elders.
In understanding who we are today, we need to develop an understanding of our past, including the laws and practices that have had a devastating impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We need to learn about their stories, the sadness experienced and also the triumphs.
The journey of reconciliation challenges us as a nation to question, who we are and the Australia we want to be. It also challenges our beliefs in what is fair and reinforces that unity makes us stronger. Reconciliation is a part of my story.
National Reconciliation Week was first celebrated in 1996 and falls between 27 May and 3 June. There are two significant dates in the relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and Mabo Day (27 May)
- the anniversary of the 1992 High Court judgment in the Mabo Case (3 June)
National Reconciliation Week aims to give people across Australia the opportunity to focus on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and to be united in our vision to succeed through strong relationships and a shared sense of what is fair and just.
At Camberwell Girls, our community has united together under the leadership of our Reconciliation Captains, Catherine Chen and Ashley Chan, supported by Mrs Ali Larkey to celebrate National Reconciliation Week in 2016. Many other staff and students have also assisted with school displays and baking lemon myrtle shortbread.
Today we have been very fortunate to spend the day with Murrundini, Ngurungaeta of the Wurundjeri people and some members of his extended family. Spending the morning in Ormiston, he conducted a Welcome to Country ceremony. The students then participated in a number of indigenous cultural learning experiences such as storytelling, dance, paperbark art and boomerang throwing.
At lunchtime, the Secondary School moved out onto the oval to form the Aboriginal Flag for a photo. Murrundindi then conducted a traditional smoking ceremony and we raised the Aboriginal and Australian flags together in a symbol of unity.
The development of our Reconciliation Week activities has been a community project. Mr Craig Goodwin and Mr Ben Jenkinson helped to organise the Ormison activities, Mrs Karen Bartram organised the displays in the main Reception, in the cafe and also the balloons on the driveway. Mrs Anne Devenish organised displays of art work and Aboriginal artifacts in the libray, including a fishing net made by Murrundindi’s grandmother and a basket made by his mother. Murrundindi also loaned us some prints for display in the library including the signed Batman Treaty. This treaty was signed at Merri Creek by John Batman, the leader of the Port Phillip Association. This treaty is considered significant as it was the first and only time that occupation of Aborginal lands was formally documented with the traditional owners.
Next week Murrundindi will return to Camberwell Girls during Reconciliation Week to work with students in Senior School. He will also attend our Reconciliaton Assembly on Tuesday, where the theme of Reconcilation will be explored.
In valuing our rich and diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, we begin to learn from each other, understand not only our differences but also the things we have in common and the way that we are woven into the fabric of our country.
With best wishes,