This week our school community acknowledged National Sorry Day and paid respect to Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. Staff and students were given an insight into Indigenous culture through rituals, inspiring speeches and dances.
Uncle Joe, a Brisbane Turrbal Elder, opened senior assembly with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country. This was followed by a speech by Ethan Gillan from the BGS Closing the Gap committee, who encouraged the school community to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.
Then the School’s Indigenous students performed traditional story telling dances, ahead of a barbecue hosted by the BGS Closing the Gap committee during lunchtime. Proceeds will to go to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital to assist with medical aid to remote Indigenous communities.
Excerpts from Ethan’s speech are below:
I believe Australians are willing to work together to achieve a common goal, regardless of race, culture or beliefs. For me this is what National Sorry Day is about. On Thursday 26 May we will recognise the mistreatment of Indigenous Australians in the past, and focus our attention on what we can do to move into a future where Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians work together for the betterment of our nation.
On 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to Indigenous Australians was widely recognised as the start of a new chapter in Australian history. Eight years on, Australia has much to celebrate with regard our to Indigenous population.
I observed with interest as the NRL celebrated round 10 as the Indigenous round over the weekend. Spectators were educated with reference to our Indigenous population, as well as recognising and celebrating their incredible achievements in rugby league.
Reconciliation is not the domain of Indigenous or non-Indigenous people, but the responsibility of both. It is a commitment to each other in a way that fosters support that is mutually beneficial to all.
Standing with the BGS Indigenous students is one of many opportunities that will be available to engage with the reconciliation agenda. As a school community we are developing a reconciliation action plan, aimed at focusing our attention on what needs to be done locally to continue to foster this important work.
Don’t be limited by what has happened in the past. Develop plans for the future with a goal of uniting Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We are the future of our country and we are responsible for furthering this important issue.