St Kevin's - Templestowe

Journey of Reconciliation

st kevinesAs a Catholic School St Kevin’s are very concerned that our community embraces the sacrament of Reconciliation as a living journey: that we transfer our understanding of the need to respond to difficulties with a will to forgive and a mission to be a part of the healing process, by our actions as much as by our words. Our Restorative Practices approach to living justly also enables us to understand each other by deeply listening to and understanding each other’s needs. Our commitment to creating a sustainable learning environment drives our thinking at many levels not the least of which is our relationship with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. To this end we have engaged in many steps along the Reconciliation journey.

In 2003 we worked with Murrundindi to create a set of totems for our Indigenous Garden. The parents, teachers and children worked with Murrundindi to understand the artwork and the Wurundjeri history and then blended the story with our shared Parish history. The totems tell this story very vividly. We only plant native and indigenous bushes and shrubs in this space as indeed is the rest of the school ground now. It is a centrepiece of the school environment.

We commemorated this journey with a Womin Je Ka (welcome) Mass and smoking ceremony for the whole community. This was a memorable time and our Grade 6 children talk of it fondly with a great sense of ownership.

We have recently entered into a host relationship with Reconciliation Manningham who are a community group connected to the Eastern Reconciliation group and very passionate that local indigenous history is communicated and understood. Our shared vision for Reconciliation is to develop empathy and understanding of the Aboriginal story including a clear appreciation and understanding of how that story is located in Australian history. We meet at the school on the third Thursday of every month in the evening and share our stories. One of the goals of the group, which is being funded by the Manningham Council, is to create a pilot program which will assist in the delivery of our goal. To this end last year we invited Auntie Doreen Wandin to explain and take us through a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country. We have recently formed a student leadership team to steer this program and they are working keenly on gathering information about local history.

We are committed to celebrating Sorry Day and what it means for the actions we take in our lives. We also actively participate in the Manningham Reconciliation Week activities. Our children attended a Welcome to Country and Art Show during this time this year and were encouraged to write poems to share their thoughts about Reconciliation. One of our students (11years) was thrilled to be able to read hers at the gathering. We continue to take advantage of and seek out opportunities to work with Aboriginal people in our community and regularly trek to Westerfolds Park as a function of the Greening Australia program. We have planted many trees over the years and wandered along the river’s edge investigating the rich Aboriginal history of the site.

The Grade 5 and 6 students are currently interrogating the history books to discuss ‘Who did discover Australia?” and the dialogue and debate is rich. They now have a critical approach to the representation of history and from which lens the view is interpreted.

Aboriginal Reconciliation

A different name, a different face, a different language but we share the same place.
There seems to be a great difference but we are all the same, we breathe the same air and we feel the same pain. We learn from the Elders who teach the young.
We hear the same message no matter what the tongue.
Always look in before you look out. Always forgive but do not shout.
We should thank the Indigenous owners of this land for sharing it with an open hand.
All the fabulous things that you make, the boomerangs, the didgeridoos and the great face paint.
We should have a look in our own back garden to see what we can do, to lend the Aboriginal people a helping hand: to help them through their ups and downs just like any neighbour should.

Jemima Boyhan, 11 years