Travelling together toward equality

Travelling together toward equality

Kingborough students were among those who connected with Aboriginal culture, Elders and history to appreciate how rich and dynamic Aboriginal heritage is as part of National Reconciliation Week (NRW).

This year’s theme for NRW was ‘In this Together’. 

Established by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, NRW is celebrated across Australia every year from May 27 to June 3 as a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures and achievements as well as being a call to action to participate in national reconciliation.

These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the nation’s reconciliation journey; the anniversaries of the successful 1967 Referendum on May 27, 1967 and the High Court Mabo decision on June 3, 1992.

Staff, primary and secondary students from St Alyosius Catholic College joined with people all over Australia to commemorate and to engage with the idea of reconciliation.

One of the many activities that the students and staff at the college participated in was the Sea of Hands project.

For over 20 years the Sea of Hands program has been a symbol that engages Australians with reconciliation. 

St Aloysius has participated in this program for the past two years, believing it is an important way for the college community to show their respect and willingness to engage in a simple act of reconciliation.

Hands in the colours of the Aboriginal flag were planted at both the primary and secondary college campuses by students and staff.

Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Rodney Dillon visited the Huntingfield Campus to view the installation and to plant a hand with Acting Principal, Joe Sandric and Grade 6 student, Oliver McAnally. 

"Reconciliation is putting a black hand out and a white hand out, to travel together," said Uncle Rodney.

“We're not to that stage yet but we want to get to that stage.

“The people that'll do that will be the young people.”

Aboriginal Student Success teacher, Ms Anne-Marie McWatters, organised activities that students at the college could participate in throughout the week.

Prep and Kinder students learnt a Dreaming story about the Tasmanian devil and built bush shelters together. 

Grade 1, 2 and 3 students engaged in Aboriginal art activities while Grade 4 students learnt about Truganini and many other significant Aboriginal people.

Students at the Huntingfield Campus learnt about reconciliation and the 1967 referendum.

Acting Principal, Joe Sandric said the activities had improved the students cultural understanding.

“It has been wonderful to have our Aboriginal Student Success Teacher, Anne-Marie McWatters, work with Uncle Rodney to give Aboriginal voice to our history,” Mr Sandric said.

“The students today are richer in their education about Aboriginal history as a result of this collaboration.”

As protests and riots after the death of George Floyd in America draw global attention to racial inequality, National Reconciliation Week should be an important reminder to all Australians of the work still to be done in our own country in moving towards an equitable society.

Pictured above: Grade 6 St Aloysius student Oliver McAnally, Aboriginal Elder Rodney Dillon and St Aloysius Acting Principal Joe Sandric plant a handprint together in the Sea of Hands as part of the schools National Reconciliation Week activities. (PS)