Mr Geoff Lancaster | Principal | Grammar News |13 November 2020
I am embarrassed to admit that it was only in the last 5 to 10 years that I have seen the Map of Indigenous Australia published in 1996 by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). This is information I should have been aware of earlier. Admittedly the map wasn’t available when I was at school, however, it is a sad reality that progress has been slow over the last 230 years in recognising and valuing the culture and heritage of our First Nation people. I learned very little at school about Aboriginal culture, and what I did learn was always from the perspective of European settlers.
Thankfully this has changed; however, work still needs to be done to ensure our students are critical thinkers and ask questions so that they do not unknowingly believe a biased view of history. This week at St Luke’s we celebrated NAIDOC week and this year’s theme “Always Was, Always Will Be” recognised that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
Karen Smith from the Aboriginal Heritage Office, connected with the Northern Beaches Council, spoke to the Senior students of the role of truth-telling and historical acceptance in moving the nation forward in reconciliation. Brooke Prentice, CEO of Common Grace spoke with students about her experience growing up in Queensland as an emerging leader of the Wakka Wakka peoples. Brooke shared her reflections on the importance of Country and how we can connect to country and better honour the rich culture of Aboriginal peoples. Brooke also spoke with Legal Studies students about some of the atrocities experienced by Indigenous Australians and the damning statistics of disadvantage and incarceration in our Indigenous population. Although progress has been made, inequality for Indigenous Australians remains a concern for our nation.
NAIDOC week serves as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture and reflect on what we can do as a School and as individuals to help bring about equality for all Australians. One small action I am going to take is to purchase a map of Aboriginal Australia for each of our campuses to help our students actively engage with the Indigenous history of our nation.