An important week during the year is National Reconciliation Week (NRW). It is a time to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The College recognised National Reconciliation Week with a Reconciliation Week ceremony. The ceremony was linked to the ACC Sport fixtures for Football and Soccer and was celebrated by visiting teams from St Mary’s, Mazenod and St Bede’s. Our footballers wore our indigenous jumper on the day. Unfortunately, the scheduled luncheon celebration was not able to proceed due to COVID restrictions.
From Principal Mark Murphy’s Reconciliation Day speech:
“… In the short sixty-year history of our College, thousands of people have developed and maintained a strong connection to physical place and philosophical idea that is Whitefriars. Imagine then if you had a connection to a place going back not 60 years but 60,000 years! That is the period the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation have been connected to this same place.
During the summer months, over those thousands of years the Wurundjeri people would inhabit this area with its many significant sites. In winter they would move to the Dandenong Ranges for shelter and along the way, they would stop by the Bolin Bolin Billabong in Bulleen, to fish for eel or hunt for food. The Yarra and the Mullum Mullum are the centre of the traditional land and dreaming stories for the Wurundjeri people. For thousands of years the Wurundjeri nurtured and protected this land and its dreaming stories and in return enjoyed the highest standards of living, health, and wellbeing.
The Wurundjeri often hosted inter-tribal events that involved thousands of guests in this very area. The last of these, at Pound Bend, was held in Warrandyte in 1852. It was here the last inter-tribal game of Marngrook (the original of Australian Football) was played.
The connection of the Wurundjeri to this land was abruptly and thoughtlessly interrupted soon after this time when the Government of the day, withdrew Aboriginal people’s right to practice traditional life, relocating most of the tribe to the Coranderrk Aboriginal Mission in Healesville. From that day till this the Wurundjeri and the over 500 Indigenous nations around this continent have fought for recognition as first nations peoples of this country. They have fought for equality and to not have their children taken away. They have fought for the right to determine their own destiny, to vote, and most importantly to be recognised as the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand, Wurundjeri land.
As testament to the Wurundjeri connection to the land on which we stand recently, Yarra Valley Water conducted a heritage overlay of the section of the Mullum Mullum Creek which runs along the boundary of our property here at Whitefriars and discovered over 2,500 artifacts dating back thousands of years.
Today, at Whitefriars today we stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters, we recognise and are sorry for the wrongs of the past committed by our ancestors and commit ourselves to righting these wrongs.
We are so blessed to have a school in one of the most beautiful and significant pieces of land in the land of the Wurundjeri. As we enter the gates of this incredible place let us remember those who came before us, who gathered here, learnt here and celebrated life here. Let us honour them by the way we respect and care for this place. For we too are just passing through, we too are visitors to this sacred land and therefore we too have a responsibility to care for this land, the land of the Wurundjeri.”
Deputy Principal – Learning & Teaching