Kellyville school national finalist in reconciliation award

A NSW public school has earned national recognition for its commitment to authentic Aboriginal education and reconciliation. Sophie Lambert reports.

Students standing on and in front of a bridge. Students standing on and in front of a bridge.
Image: Kellyville Public School students with their Coming Together Bridge.

Kellyville Public School, located on Darug Country in NSW, is one of three Australian schools to be selected as finalists in the 2023 Narragunnawali Awards.

The school’s passion for reconciliation in education has been recognised alongside Winterfold Primary School and Kwoorabup Nature School, both on Noongar Country in Western Australia.

Kellyville Public School Principal Jenny Walker said students and staff were proud to be taking positive steps towards strengthening the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples and non-indigenous Australians.

“We value reconciliation and believe it’s about people and trust, respect, recognition and our country being one in unity to move forward. It’s about not having to say sorry twice because it has been done right,” Ms Walker said.

“Through our partnership with the traditional owners, the Darug people, we learn truth, deliver justice and seek forgiveness so that healing can occur, ensuring the mistakes of the past are never repeated.”

Reconciliation Australia holds the Narragunnawali Awards every two years to recognise outstanding commitment to reconciliation in education.

A special feature at Kellyville Public School is the Coming Together Bridge, a symbol of reconciliation physically linking two points in the Guganagina Ngurang, 'The Place of the Kookaburras'.

The bridge was named by Darug Elder, Aunty Edna, and serves as a reminder to students of the importance of true histories, working together and making strong connections to Country.

“Through embedded, genuine Aboriginal education experiences, we will teach the future generations the true histories and cultures of the First Australians,” Ms Walker said.

“It’s a privilege for Kellyville Public School students to learn about Aboriginal ways of life and for us to ensure our school is a place where Aboriginal education is authentically taught.”

The award judges were impressed by the 2023 finalists’ use of local Aboriginal languages, their embedding of reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures into the curriculum and their strong relationships with local Elders and communities.

Sharon Davis, chair of the judging panel, said schools and early childhood centres were “increasingly becoming places that are welcoming for First Nations students and families”.

“The impact of the initiatives demonstrated by these finalists cannot be overestimated on the broader Australian society. These schools and services present a brighter future for our students and the country,” Ms Davis said.

The judges also commended in NSW: Lismore High School campus (Northern Rivers Secondary College) on Wijabal Wyabal Country; Wyong Preschool Kindergarten on Darkinjung Country; and Kinda-Mindi Early Learning Centre Claymore on Dharawal Country.

The awards ceremony and a reconciliation in education forum will be held on Ngunnawal Country in Canberra at the National Museum of Australia on Friday 24 November.

A bridge. A bridge.
Image: The Coming Together Bridge is a symbol of reconciliation physically linking two points in the Guganagina Ngurang, 'The Place of the Kookaburras'.
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