New traditions take root in Bowraville

Kristi Pritchard-Owens reports on a community-wide approach to celebrating NAIDOC Week.

Image: Bowraville Central School high school students Joshua MacDonald, Benjamin Johnson, Jack Nickson and Leo De Bastos show off their NAIDOC shirts

At Bowraville on the mid-north coast, NAIDOC Week is about coming together and celebrating the local Aboriginal community.

It’s also about honouring traditions and a chance to create some new ones.

For the second year, Bowraville Central School, Bowraville Preschool, St Marys Primary School and Tallowood Steiner School joined with their families and neighbours and Elders for a combined NAIDOC celebration.

“We are a Connected Community School and want to celebrate with the whole community,” Community Liaison Officer Megan Cochrane said.

“After the great success of the inaugural combined celebration held by Bowraville Central School in 2021, it was agreed this would become an annual event shared among local schools.”

Students from St Marys hosted this year’s celebrations and ran the assembly, which also included a talk by local Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Martin Ballangarry.

Uncle Martin also prepared the smoking ceremony, and students raised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags before everyone gathered for yarning, sausage sandwiches and soup.

“The wonderful morning at St Mary’s has only strengthened our commitment to keep this new tradition going,” Ms Cochrane said.

It builds on another tradition which the school began in 2020, of providing all Bowraville Central School students with their own NAIDOC shirt that also includes the school logo.

Students are encouraged to wear their shirt – which is supplied for free - as school uniform, while staff can buy their own shirt (which they usually do).

Since Executive Principal Dave Taylor first came up with the idea, it’s gone from strength to strength.

“Community members are also invited to purchase a shirt when they are available,” Mr Taylor said.

“A Bowraville Community School NAIDOC shirt has also become a thoughtful gift for special visitors to the school.”

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2022 is Get up! Stand up! Show up!

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