This week across Australia we have celebrated National Reconciliation Week. From 27 May until 3 June this period of recognition for reconciliation has been a time for us to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
The week of celebration is made significant by the two dates that mark the commencement and completion of National Reconciliation Week. On the 27 May 1967 more than 90 percent of Australians voted to give the Australian Government power to make laws for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the Census. This still stands as the most successful referendum in our country’s history. During our Secondary assembly this week, students shared the message of the second significant date that concludes National Reconciliation Week. On the 3 June 1992 the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision, the culmination of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one) and leading to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands. It was this decision that paved the way for Native Title.
As well as sharing the message of Mabo Day, our cultural group performed a dance inspired by the Mabo Legacy and invited all students to participate in various activities organised for lunch time on Friday 3 June to conclude National Reconciliation Week.
My assembly address focused on the importance of this year’s theme, Be Brave. Make the Change and how this relates to so many aspects of our lives. A significant part of Girls Grammar is the way we share and celebrate the different cultures and heritages that make up our school. One significant part of this is the relationships and bonds that are formed amongst students as peers and how this carries through their time as students, and into adulthood. I find the stories of Girls Grammar graduates who have continued connections well beyond their schooling years inspiring. Through the many significant milestones they continue to share with one another including their culture, heritage and traditions, their bond formed during their schooling years flows on to their partners and their own children as they grow older.
I reiterated to our girls in Years 7-12 that to Be Brave. Make the Change involves standing up for what is right, leading with our own values and moral compass and not acting as a follower or engaging in others’ personal business or dramas. Being brave means at times, doing what may not be the ‘norm’ or what is ‘socially acceptable’ but instead doing what is ‘morally right’.