This week the College celebrated National Reconciliation Week with this year’s theme ‘Don’t Keep History a Mystery’. The aim of this campaign was to highlight some of the lesser known aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, histories, cultures, and achievements, to prompt students to ask themselves: What are some of the things I don’t know about our shared history? Across the school there has been a conscious effort in recent times to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and perspectives within teaching and learning. Many subject areas now offer students the opportunity to learn about these important aspects as part of our nations history.

National Sorry Day – Curlew Park

On our pathway towards reconciliation, Sorry Day, observed on Saturday 26 May, is an important moment to remember the past policies of forced child removal. This year both St Patrick’s and St Edmund’s school communities exchanged message sticks as a sign of solidarity in reconciliation at the beginning of both first football and rugby matches. The message stick exchange was a signal of our solidarity in remembrance of the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations as well as a recognition of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.

The recognition of past wrongs in Australia has been described as 'the test we've always failed'. National Sorry Day recognises the negative impact of Australian policies, practices and attitudes on Indigenous people. In true reconciliation, through the remembering, the grieving and the healing we can come to terms with our conscience.

Flag Raising Ceremony

On Monday and Wednesday of this week flag raising ceremonies were held for the recognisable red black and yellow of the Aboriginal flag and the blue, green and white of the Torres Strait Islander flag, celebrating the cultures and survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As a symbol of reconciliation they are unifying, and we as a community should know the importance of these flags to Indigenous people and their capacity to bring our communities together. These flags do not create a "nation within a nation". Flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags says to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those that attend this school as students or staff, and those that visit our school: You are a valued and unique part of the fabric of our nation.

For much of our nation's history the messages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been the opposite to this message of inclusion. The Aboriginal flag was first raised in the early 1970s - a period when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were beginning to mobilise. As an Edmund Rice community we recognise the terrible legacy of injustice for Indigenous people in our nation’s history. Raising the flag can be nothing but unifying and inclusive.

In particular, this week these flags remind us of two important dates in our history. The 1967 referendum to include Aboriginal Australia as citizens and the 1992 High Court's Mabo decision which recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were the original inhabitants, owners and occupiers of Australia.

For all of us, to be a truly inclusive community we will recognise and make our efforts to acknowledge, and come to know this is part of our history.

Luke Royes, Program Leader – Liberating Education