Now More Than Ever

National Reconciliation Week

In honor of National Reconciliation Week, The College held an assembly during Nourish. This assembly acknowledged the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations across Australia, who have maintained an unbroken connection to their Country for tens of thousands of years, making them the longest continuing culture in the world.

The guest speaker was Sherry Balcombe, an Olkala, Djabaguy woman originally from Far North Queensland, Australia. Sherry has a strong history in welfare and supporting Aboriginal families and has made significant contributions to the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (ACM) in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. She also helped to start the FIRE Carrier Program, which engaged Catholic schools across Victoria in their own journey of truth-telling and reconciliation. Sherry brought a wealth of knowledge and understanding on many Indigenous topics, and was truly inspirational. She spoke to our students about this year’s Reconciliation Week theme, "Now More Than Ever," discussed the 1967 Referendum, and spoke about the work of the wonderful organisation for Indigenous youth today called Opening The Doors Foundation.

Opening The Doors Foundation is a First Nations-led organisation in Australia that supports educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Established in 2000, the foundation assists First Nations families in providing their children with access to non-government schools across Victoria. The foundation addresses the financial barriers these families face by funding essential school-related costs such as tuition, uniforms, books, and extracurricular activities. The foundation's mission is to empower First Nations students to achieve their educational potential and build personal capacity for future educational and employment opportunities. It supports up to 1,000 students annually, from Prep to Year 12, ensuring a continuous and supportive educational journey. We thank Sherry for sharing her journey with us.

In keeping with the College's commitment to National Reconciliation Week, four students took part in The Long Walk event at Yarra Bend on Saturday, May 25th. Mr Chesser and Miss De Bono had the privilege of escorting Saskia Wong and Natasha Puccio from Year 8, and Sadie Neave and Jasmine Foo from Year 11 through the enriching and enlightening experiences on the day. Many students think that this event involves a long walk; however, this is not the case. The Long Walk is an afternoon of Indigenous culture and festivities. It is called The Long Walk because Michael Long wanted to make a change for Indigenous people. He wanted the Indigenous voice to be heard, so he walked from Melbourne to Canberra’s Parliament House to make his statement. This year marked 20 years since he did that walk. The Long Walk festival is held every year before the Essendon vs. Richmond Dreamtime Game. These teams are significant because their colors—Essendon’s red and black and Richmond’s black and gold—make up the colors of the Indigenous flag.

Here is a reflection from Jasmine Foo and Sadie Neave on their experience of the event:

This weekend, we were privileged to hear from Indigenous leaders who shared their wisdom and perspectives. Their words inspire us to challenge prejudices, acknowledge past injustices, and strive for a more inclusive and equal society. The Long Walk is more than just a walk; it is a powerful symbol of our collective effort to acknowledge the history, culture, and contributions of the First Nations people. It serves as a reminder of the steps we must continue to take towards reconciliation.

Every day at school during Reconciliation Week, there have been notices in the daily bulletin informing students about the week various events and activities focusing on reconciliation. There are also videos and short clips for students to watch. On Wednesday, students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in Indigenous culture by learning about Dreamtime stories.

Reconciliation is crucial for fostering understanding and healing between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It involves recognising and respecting the unique cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. By acknowledging past injustices and addressing ongoing disparities, we can build a more inclusive and equitable society. Reconciliation encourages us to listen, learn, and work together towards a shared future where all Australians can thrive. Through events like National Reconciliation Week and initiatives such as The Long Walk, we take meaningful steps towards bridging the gap and ensuring that the voices of Indigenous people are heard and valued.

Mary De Bono