In my Principal’s Address for this week’s school assembly, I spoke about the importance of NAIDOC week and the significance of the history of First Nations people for all Australians. The transcript of my address follows.
This week is NAIDOC week.
It is an important week for every Australian because it is a celebration of our history and of the great people who walked this land first, our First Nations people.
The theme this year, Always Was, Always Will Be, reminds us of the deep and powerful history of Australia’s First Nations people; a history that is told through
the story of 65,000 years on Australian soil
the story of a spirituality that runs deep through the land and the waters
the story of a spirit of survival that gave us the first farmers and botanists to cultivate the land
the story of the first explorers, navigators and engineers of this great nation
the story of the first artists, musicians and storytellers in this country
the story of the first environmentalists to offer stewardship to the land.
We know that the story of First Nations people has been marred by injustices done at the hands of people who arrived in Australia without an understanding of the peaceful, sustainable, organised way of life that already existed here.
There are times in modern day Australia that some of those injustices still persist, and where the equality afforded to people in our country is compromised. We know not to accept this as our reality, and we know that we make choices that give dignity to every one of us.
Today, on Remembrance Day, we remember the many people united under the Australian flag, including the unrecognised First Nations men and women, who fought in global wars to ensure a country in which justice defines our interactions with one another.
We are aware of the wonderful future that awaits all people in Australia when we listen and love.
As women of mercy, we respond to the call of Catholic leadership and our privilege of education to recognise and call out moments of injustice in our very own lives. We know that sometimes we need to draw on our courage. We cannot turn a blind eye to injustice in our school community, in our families, in our city, in our country.
This week and over the next few weeks, the MAG leaders are preparing a resource for homerooms. They remind us about justice, and about the definition of justice - the ability to show deep respect to people. They are using the tagline, ‘McAuley says no to injustice’.
This week, in this marvellous celebration of the First Nations people, I invite you to listen to the stories of those who Always Was, Always Will Be. Listen to the stories told about the history of those alongside whom we walk; listen to the stories told in the dance, the music, the art of our companions, and celebrate with them their great history and culture.
I stand humbly before you today, thankful for the welcome from my Dharug sisters who stand proudly on their land. I am proud to stand alongside them today, and everyday.