Voices resonate through generations
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students ran the show at Hastings Secondary College’s Reconciliation assembly. Kristi Pritchard-Owens reports.
06 June 2023
Yarrgal Djuyal, Ngukalil-Ngarralbaa yarning circle at Hastings Secondary College Westport Campus is a dedicated space for students, teachers, and community to come together and share stories, knowledge, and experiences.
They are becoming more common in the grounds of public schools, and Gulwanyang Moran was thrilled to see this particular one on Birpai country opened during Reconciliation Week.
“This space is a symbol of the school community's commitment to reconciliation and creating a safe and inclusive environment for all,” the President of the Hastings Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group said.
“The yarning circle features the local Gathang language and provides place for cultural learning, healing, and connection.
“We believe it will positively impact the wellbeing and education of the College's students and the wider community.”
Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups (AECGs) advise from an Aboriginal viewpoint on matters relating to education and training, and are partners with the NSW Department of Education in improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.
The Hastings AECG played a pivotal role the development of the project at Hastings Secondary College, where this year’s Reconciliation Assemblies were run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Proud Kamilaroi and Biripi woman, Charlie Molenkamp, provided Acknowledgement of Country in Language at Westport Campus and said she loves Reconciliation Week because she gets to spend more time with her elders.
“When I spend time with my elders it makes my heart feel full, I love standing up and representing my culture and speaking our language,” the Year 10 student said.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn about my culture through my amazing, inspiring elders such as, Aunty Maree Hutchinson, Samantha McKinnon and my grandma who has recently just passed.
“My elders inspire me every day to continue to stand up and represent our culture and inspire me to teach it.”
Wiradjuri and Mununjali woman Shanell Dargan addressed the students, the boxer and singer talking about the traumas faced by her family as well as how she found her current path.
Elder Uncle Bill O’Brien also led a smoking ceremony to celebrate the opening of Yarrgal Djuyal, Ngukalil-Ngarralbaa yarning circle.
The theme for Reconciliation Week 2023 is ‘Be a Voice for Generations.’
It’s a challenge which has been issued to all Australians, and is embodied by Westport Campus student TJ Bramble.
“Reconciliation Week is not just another date on the calendar,” the Year 8 student said.
“It is a reminder for everyone to be more accepting and build relationships to promote healing.