St Pius X School, Heidelberg West - Walking “The Long Walk” the right way – side by side!
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) 2016 occurs between two significant dates in recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, Friday 27 May (1967 Referendum) – Friday 3 June (Mabo Decision 1992).
The theme for 2016: “Our History, Our Story, Our Future”
NRW is about celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s histories, cultures, journeys and stories and sharing that rich and vibrant heritage with other Australians. It is about taking the time to remember, reflect, heal, forgive and seek a new way. It is about building bridges to move forward with respect and together.
St Pius X School in Heidelberg West is a little school with big dreams including those of 4 Aboriginal students and their families. This “shine” illuminates on those who come into contact with St Pius X – parents, visitors, other schools and local community. They are all brightened by the light this lively school community radiates.
For NRW and beyond, St Pius will focus on “The Long Walk” as its inspiration to Reconciliation. Michael Long’s walked from Melbourne to Canberra in order to raise awareness of matters impacting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s wellbeing and life chances back on to the national agenda.
The Long Walk website: http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/the-long-walk/
Preparing for National Reconciliation Week 2016
In 2015 St Pius X school principal Barbara Gomez engaged the services of Jayden Lillyst to provide interim support that was previously given by a Koorie Education Worker. Mrs Gomez extended an invitation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students attending Parade College in Bundoora thus maintaining the connection to former St Pius X students.
They are now a community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who have come together through the kinship of their heritage thus breaking down the cultural isolation students can experience at times.
Our History - Where we come from
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are complex and diverse. The Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultural history in the world – they go back at least 50,000 years and some argue closer to 65,000 years.”
• Mainland Australia has over 500 different Aboriginal groups
• Torres Strait Islands comprise of 5 traditional island clusters which comprises of over 274 small islands
Our Story - What we bring
Using the maps above students shared their cultural identity with us and those who are are still searching for their story then we were able to use their birth place as their cultural connection. The map shows the 2 diverse cultures of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, the land-based Aboriginal peoples and the sea-based Torres Strait Islanders. From St Pius X School and Parade College our students come from the Wurundjeri (Vic), Gunai/Kurnai (Vic), Wiradjuri (NSW), Noongar (WA), Bidwell (Vic), Yorta Yorta (Vic), Gunditjmara (Vic), Bunitj (NT), Palawa (Tas), Kimberleys (WA), and the Torres Strait Islands.
At the beginning of each session students introduced themselves and identify which country (Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander group) they are from. “Country” is a term used by Aboriginal people to refer to the land to which they belong and their place of Dreaming. This cultural practice is shortened dramatically to accommodate time in western culture but it instils a sense of pride in who they are and connection about where they came from. Ann Fahey from Parade College noted “the pride the students displayed in their culture, the knowledge they had of their own mob, and a willingness to share story.”
Add to that the following:
Our Future - Where we’re going…
Inspired by “The Long Walk” planning for “The Long Walk” in collaboration with Parade College Bundoora has a number of key areas of focus:
1. Breaking down old barriers that prevent people from moving forward
2. Crossing boundaries to create change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians
Link to NRW website: http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/what-is-nrw/
Link to NRW Resources: http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/resources/
NRW events across Australia link:http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/major-events/