Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage
National Reconciliation Week 2019
“Whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all of us to walk together with courage. This National Reconciliation Week, we invite Australians from all backgrounds to contribute to our national movement towards a unified future.’
In this multicultural country that we call home, to truly understand who we are today, we need to understand our past. We need to understand our indigenous heritage and the devastating impacts that laws and practices have had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families.
The journey of reconciliation challenges us as a nation to question who we are and to question the Australia we want to be. It also challenges our belief in what is fair and helps us realise that unity makes us stronger. Reconciliation is about relationships, grounded in truth, enabled by courage and results in us walking together.
National Reconciliation was first celebrated in 1996 and falls between 27 May and 3 June. These 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. To be united in our vision to succeed through strong relationships and a shared sense of what is fair and just.
The path to reconciliation is a privilege to travel on with our students. As educators we are so fortunate to witness their respect for culture and history, alongside their hope for the future and it is why we are so proud to celebrate National Reconciliation Week each year. In 2019 the Reconciliation team has been led by our Reconciliation Coordinator, Ms Georgia Biggs, Reconciliation Captains, Yesenia Chang-Gonzalez and Mathilda Cleeland-Mellor, Faith & Service Captain, Isabella Lincke and Head of Service Learning, Liss Campbell. Many other staff and students have also assisted with aspects of the program. This weeks program including:
> A special National Reconciliation Week Assembly in Senior School with a Welcome to Country by Murrundindi and performance with the Billy Tea Bush Band (they also conducted workshops at Ormiston)
> A Years 3 and 4 Grandparents and Special Friends morning with Murrundindi where they learnt about indigenous history and culture
> The annual Service Learning Dinner and silent auction (to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Green Gecko Project)
> Displays such as the ‘Sea of Hands’ installation, fact checking quiz in the breezeway, a Reconciliation timeline constructed on the driveway and a display of photographs and artifacts in the library
> Digital posters and Ted Talks that explore the theme of ‘Grounded in Truth’
> Organising the Marngrook (or Possum Ball) match with Trinity Grammar
> Baking lemon myrtle shortbread, wattle seed damper, gingram cordial, native tea and a sausage sizzle to help raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. An AFL Indigenous Round Sherrin Football was also donated to raise money.
> Lunchtime activities such a boomerang throwing and soap making
It has been a very engaging week!
Earlier in May, twelve students and four staff travelled into New South Wales to the Willandra Lakes World Heritage region to participate in the Mungo Youth Conference. The oldest known Aboriginal remains, known as ‘Mungo Man’ and ‘Mungo Woman’, were discovered at Lake Mungo in this area by the geomorphologist and Patron of the conference, Professor Jim Bowler who was also a presenter.
Our students joined Elders, park rangers, scientists, archaeologists, principals, mentors and others on sacred land to directly engage with history and culture. They were not only participants but also presenters, delivering a workshop on the topic of bush foods, medicine and Aboriginal science. Inspired by Bruce Pascoe’s book ‘Dark Emu’, our students explored the idea that Aboriginal people were not just hunter-gathers, but also utilized agricultural practices to cultivate and store food. Murrundindi generously provided the group with artifacts including ancient tools to support this thinking.
Invited by the Elders of the region, Murrundindi also joined our group for part of the trip and assisted in the girls presentation. Other highlights of the conference included a traditional Lore Ceremony and discovering the night sky.
I am particularly grateful to Georgia Biggs, Shane Maycock, Anna Clarkson and Penny Dumsday for their preparation of the girls in the weeks preceding the conference as well as accompanying them on the journey into this incredible part of remote Australia. As Georgia highlighted “it was truly a pleasure to join our girls and witness such spirit and enthusiasm from each and every one of them. It is difficult to describe the spiritual and special nature of this environment but I believe they immediately understood the significance of it all.”
Experiences such as the Mungo Youth Conference provide such rich and memorable learning experiences for our students.
As I reflect upon National Reconciliation Week in 2019, I firmly believe that in understanding and valuing our rich and diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history, we can seek truth, learn together and walk alongside each other with courage to undertand what it truly means to be Australian.
With best wishes,