More than a word

More than a word

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Mya Archibald (Year 4) leads the walk. Photograph – Richard Polden

National Reconciliation Week presents the opportunity for citizens across the country to learn and acknowledge the history of Australia and to explore how each individual can contribute to achieving reconciliation.

Good Shepherd Primary School in Kelmscott took the week as an opportunity to engage their students and teach them about empathy and compassion.

According to Principal Paul Hansen, Good Shepherd Primary aims to foster students who are well informed.

“It is important to us that we nurture students who show empathy and compassion towards others,” he said.

“We want our students to acknowledge the Stolen Generation, the past hurts and the effect of this on aboriginal people past, present and future.

“We encourage our students to be agents of change and advocate for justice.

“At Good Shepherd Primary, we also aim to support our aboriginal students and community members in a spirit of reconciliation.”

On May 27, the school acknowledged the week with a special ceremony.

The day began with a liturgy, to pray for those who were affected by the past occurrence of the Stolen Generation before the school participated in a Sorry Day bushwalk across the school’s 13 hectares of bushland.

The walk was led by the school’s Aboriginal Teacher Assistant Nora Derschow and the Aboriginal students.

At the end of the walk, students and community members gathered around a bushfire in a yarning circle, situated in the school’s bush tucker Bijarra garden.

Ms Derschow led the community in Dijirri, which is traditionally a symbol of coming together to share stories and find solutions to problems.

This years theme for Reconciliation Week was ‘More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.’

The students then took part in contributing to a Sorry Day Pathway where each child wrote words associated with the word “Sorry” to demonstrate that “Sorry” is more than a word.

Participating in creating the pathway reminded students that there are many ways people are called to action, to support those of the stolen generation and those that are affected by this trauma inter-generationally.

The ceremony was very meaningful to demonstrate a true understanding of the past hurts and it was an acknowledgement of the changes that can be made to encourage the healing process for aboriginal people.

“We were very proud of our school community and the way they embraced this opportunity to support the healing of aboriginal people,” Mr Hansen said.

“Ms Derschow, our Aboriginal Teacher’s Assistant, felt that the meaningfulness of the ceremony brought true healing for her and sincere hope for the aboriginal students at our school.

“She felt content knowing that our aboriginal students are well supported in the healing process and are continually encouraged to share and be proud of their heritage.”

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