Tuesday 30 May was a significant day in the life of our school’s history – realising the launch of our Reconciliation Action Plan with a Welcome to Country and Traditional Smoking Ceremony attended by our whole school community, led by Traditional Owners from Bunurong Land Council. It marked a significant moment in the school’s history with formal recognition of the ownership of the lands on which we are situated. This act acknowledges centuries of dispossession and a restoration of identity for Bunurong people.
“We acknowledge the profound and lasting impact of colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and the resulting ongoing trauma, health and wellbeing impacts, social and cultural dispossession and disadvantage. Through the development of meaningful learning, community engagement and action we will engage our school in embracing the rich diverse cultures, history and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their ongoing contributions to Australian society. We are committed to contributing to an understanding of the need for truth-telling, for real listening and to ensuring that justice, equity, equality and the path to self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are embedded in our ways of being at Westbourne.” These words are from our Vision for Reconciliation in our Reconciliation Action Plan and represent our commitment to aboriginal people in Australia.
We heard from Year 6 and Senior School students throughout the ceremony about the meaning of Reconciliation, the importance of National Reconciliation Week, the story of Bunurong warrior Derrimut and the significance of Skeleton Creek situated alongside the Truganina campus.
It was also an opportunity to thank the broader community who contributed to and led the development of the Reconciliation Action Plan. This working party with members from the student and staff body, parents, alumni and Traditional Owners from Bunurong Land Council, met regularly over an 18-month period to guide us in our commitment.
What we say quite strongly is we are committed to fairness, equity, recognition of the past hurt and traumas experienced by First Nations peoples and still being felt today. We want to walk together in reconciliation which is why we are here today. We can be a voice for generations with courage and determination to make a difference. As a school we have taken the decision and have a strong commitment to Reconciliation with First Nations peoples. We recognise that we are on Bunurong country and are respectful of their lands, culture and traditions. It is a privilege for all of us today to be part of this historic moment in the life of Westbourne.
Everyone joined in the full spirit of Reconciliation.
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to act with open hearts and minds in making a conscious decision to embrace indigenous history, culture and the past as we look to a reconciled future in our country. The theme for this year encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise. For the work of generations past, and the benefit of future generations being a voice for reconciliation means act today for a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all. It starts with all of us.
It is why we as a school have made a formal commitment to Reconciliation in our Reconciliation Action Plan to publicly acknowledge the need for reconciliation and what we can do as a school to actively work on this.
Teagan Collins, Deputy Principal