A walk in history’s footsteps on path to reconciliation
Students from seven Riverina schools walked together as one on Friday as National Reconciliation Week ended at the weekend. Vivienne Jones reports.
05 June 2023
More than 700 students from the public, Catholic and independent schools in Cootamundra and surrounds walked in the footsteps of history on Friday.
The students retraced the journey of many young Aboriginal girls as they walked from Cootamundra train station to the former Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls.
They then heard stories directly from women who lived in the home during its operation from 1912 to 1969.
Cootamundra High School deputy principal Alasdair Sides said it was great to bring students and staff together with the local community to reflect on the past and educate the future generation.
“Students were able to build connections with the local Gudhamangdhuray community and pay respect to Aboriginal peoples that were removed from their families and placed at the Cootamundra Girls Home,” he said.
“The students learned about and observed the commemorative art piece at the Cootamundra Railway Station and listened to stories about the experiences of residents of the Cootamundra Girls Home.”
Mr Sides said Cootamundra High School, on Wiradjuri Country, organised the reconciliation walk in consultation with their neighbouring schools and the local AECG.
Students and staff from Cootamundra High School, Cootamundra Public School, Stockinbingal Public School, Walendbeen Public School, EA Southee Public School, Elouera Special School and Sacred Heart Central School also enjoyed learning about and enjoying some bush tucker.
In 1912, the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls was established as a training institution for Aboriginal girls who had been removed from their families as part of the Stolen Generation.
Aboriginal girls were trained to become domestic servants and farm hands in wealthy non-Aboriginal households. Girls in the homes were referred to as ‘inmates’ and parents were unable to regain access to their children until they turned 18 years, and in many cases never saw their children again.
An average of 40 children were accommodated in the Cootamundra Girls Home at a time, with children living in dormitories, divided by age.
The Cootamundra Reconciliation Walk was just one of many that NSW public school students participated in across the state this week.
- 175 years