Ribbons for Reconciliation at Cammeray Public

Students at Cammeray Public School have celebrated Reconciliation Week with a ribbon-tying event. Luke Horton reports.

Students holding artworks. Students holding artworks.
Image: Students at Cammeray Public School with artworks they produced for Reconciliation Week.

Cammeray Public School became a sea of colours as more than 700 students tied red, yellow and black ribbons and Torres Strait Islander flags to the school fence as part of Reconciliation Week celebrations.

Principal Kerry McConaghy said the ribbons and flags representing First Nations people were a way of recognising the contribution of Indigenous culture and histories, while raising awareness about the importance of Reconciliation.

“All of our children and teachers tie a ribbon to the fence, and our parents are welcome to participate, too,” Ms McConaghy said.

“It’s a very visual way of acknowledging our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their connection to our school and community.”

For the past seven years, the school has invited local Aboriginal artist Aunty Bibi Barber to work on Indigenous projects and this week she addressed the school’s Reconciliation Week assembly.

On Monday, she joined students in a ceremony to welcome people to the school and Cammeraygal land.

Aunty Bibi has helped introduce traditional language and culture through art and storytelling and worked closely with students to make Cammeray Public’s four house totems more inclusive.

“We received a petition from 180 children to change the totems, which were previously only representative of our early colonial history,” Ms McConaghy said.

“Aunty Bibi worked with our art teacher, Sharon Fahey, and the students to create a cultural narrative for the totems, which also help explain the history and the past, from both sides.”

The new house totems have connections to land and sea and include a sea turtle ‘Gudugulung’, dolphin ‘Baruwal’, stingray ‘Daringyan’ and eel ‘Burra’.

Ms McConaghy said the school had worked hard to improve awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history among students, staff and community.

“We’ve increased the texts in our quality literature corridor from First Nations authors and illustrators from three per cent up to 18 per cent,” she said.

“There’s also been a real focus on incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history into our lesson planning.

“We’ve embraced On Country experiences into our staff development and teachers have actively engaged with this learning.”

An Aboriginal Elder speaking with students at an assembly. An Aboriginal Elder speaking with students at an assembly.
Image: Aunty Bibi Barber speaks to students at their Reconciliation Week assembly.
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