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Reconciliation is everyone’s business
Students and staff across NSW are learning that it is OK to be the brave individual who stands up and fights for change, to ensure greater opportunities for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Many of our schools are already providing a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to embrace, share and learn about their culture. This begins with commitment from our staff and acknowledgement that Aboriginal education is everybody’s business. With support from the Department of Education’s Aboriginal Education teams across the state, staff in schools are embracing targeted Aboriginal educational programs and professional learning.
Initiatives highlighting the importance of Aboriginal education and exposing all staff and students to the histories and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been a step in the right direction. Such learning helps break down stereotypes projected in the wider community towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A Partnership Agreement exists between the Department of Education and the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG Inc), making available many opportunities to learn more. Courses are provided directly by the AECG, such as “Connecting to Country”, and by the Department’s Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests. The Teacher Quality and Impact Directorate’s Aboriginal Education Team also provides learning opportunities including “Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country”, “Aboriginal Histories and Culture” and “Aboriginal Pedagogy”.
Such courses provide much-needed historical background, education regarding the effects of intergenerational trauma and how to move forward in schools and embrace Australia’s history. One staff member stated that after the “Aboriginal Histories and Culture” course, they “feel better and supported going forward” and they are now moving in the direction of being brave, getting up, standing up, showing up and making the change to embrace the Aboriginal pedagogy of “don’t learn about culture — learn through culture”. This is what Reconciliation Week is all about.
The dates for National Reconciliation Week remain the same each year: 27 May to 3 June.
The National Reconciliation Week 2022 theme, “Be Brave. Make Change”, is a challenge to all Australians — individuals, families, communities, organisations and government — to be brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for the benefit of all Australians.
This year, Reconciliation Australia is asking everyone to make change, beginning with brave actions in their daily lives, where they live, work, play and socialise. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation.
For more information about the Department’s commitment to Aboriginal education and associated resources, click here.
To find out more about National Reconciliation Week, click here. Share your events on social media using #NRW2022 #BeBraveMakeChange.
WHAT RECONCILIATION MEANS TO ME
“Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, share that knowledge and help us grow as a nation,” Phyllis Bird, a member at Newtown North Public School, said. “It is also a time for all Australians to understand and accept the wrongs of the past and the impact of these wrongs. As a nation we need to make amends for the wrongs of the past and ensure they are never repeated.”
“At Oak Flats High School, Reconciliation Week is recognised as a period where we reinforce the place of our Indigenous community even more so than usual,” Peter Horsely, a non-Aboriginal member on Federation’s Aboriginal Education Restricted Committee, said. “With upwards of 10 per cent of our student population [Indigenous], we continue our push to become a more culturally nourishing school. It is important that this is an ongoing process that does not stop or start with one week, it is far deeper than that, and we work on a daily basis to strengthen ties with community to better serve all of our students. Our students are taught Dreamtime stories that are local and relevant. They hear from elders who are living history books and all our students appreciate the role our community has taken in guiding us to be culturally more aware and relevant.”
“Reconciliation starts with remembering the Stolen Generations, the time of invasion, then between 1905-1970s, and now today,” Anissa Jones, TAFE TA Councillor, said. “I reflect on my own ancestors, the Dharug Nation, the Traditional Owners of the Sydney Basin, and how they survived. Reconciliation for me means truth-telling. It means that our history and our connection to Ngurra (Country), songlines and community are not discounted because Ngurra is now a major city. It means being acknowledged as a Traditional Owner by those who have called our Ngurra home and being respected enough to be given a seat at the table.”
“We need deeper engagement in developing a meaningful reconciliation action plan through the school plans, with Aboriginal staff to lead the process,” Chick Edwards said. “Continue to work with local Aboriginal communities, reflect, remember the past to heal the future through meaningful Acknowledgment/ Welcome to Country at whole-school assemblies.”
“I started to work towards reconciliation in 1970 after I witnessed Aboriginal performers being paid with flagons of wine. It shamed me,” Maureen Davis- Catterall, a member of Federation’s Aboriginal Education Committee and a Professional Support Officer, said. “From that day forward, I have actively worked to progress reconciliation, particularly as a member of Federation and in my school using our union’s Aboriginal Education – 25 Year Approach: The Way Forward strategic action document. “We wrongly blame Aboriginal people for the mess we created for them and have forced them to live through.”
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