Be A Voice for Generations – National Reconciliation Week 2023

Mercy Light: Connecting

“The arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

These words were first spoken by the late Dr Martin Luther King Junior, an American pastor and Civil Rights Activist who, in the 1960s, proclaimed his “dream” for racial equity in the United States.

His words have not only lived far beyond his lifetime but have been reiterated by campaigners all over the world ever since.

At the 2023 National Reconciliation Week Breakfast on May 26, Australia’s National Sorry Day, SAC students heard these words first-hand from Karen Mundine, Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia.

Nine students attended the breakfast, accompanied by First Nations Focus Teacher, Ms Viviana Graney and Maja Tongerie, First Nations Support Educator.

National Reconciliation Week is held each year between 27 May and June 3. The theme for National Reconciliation Week this year is ‘Be A Voice For Generations.’ Reconciliation Australia, the campaign’s host organisation, chose this theme to, “encourage all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise.”

One tangible way for organisations and schools to do this is to implement a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

St Aloysius College has a RAP, which you can read here. This section of our website will be home to all news and updates regarding our First Nations activities and a celebration of our continued commitment to reconciliation. Our RAP Committee meets regularly throughout the year and includes students, staff and parents from our school community.  

Opportunities for students to engage with First Nations led activities, such as the National Reconciliation Week breakfast, help them to deepen their understanding of culture and the history that has led to a need for reconciliation.

Alexis, a Year 11 student who attended the breakfast and who later this year will be visiting the Pipalyatjara community in the APY Lands, said:

“I was honoured to be able to attend the National Reconciliation Week along with the other members of the Trip to Pipalyatjara group. We had the opportunity to listen to multiple First Nations leaders and role models and hear about their experiences. It was inspiring to see so many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians gather so early in the morning to honour National Sorry Day, recognising our history and moving forward together as a reconciled nation.”

Alexis’ summary highlights an important message – that acknowledging the past is how we can progress.

Reconciliation Week activities were launched on National Sorry Day, May 26, with all students invited to respond to a question in line with the theme of the National Reconciliation Week theme: “How can I be a voice for reconciliation?”

Written and illustrated responses from students of all ages were displayed on walls and windows around the school campus. It is inspiring to see so many insightful reflections, and an eagerness to continue learning from First Nations peoples.

On Friday June 2, students participated in an activity led by First Nations organisation, Children’s Ground, called ‘Wear It Yellow Day’. For a gold coin donation, students were encouraged to wear yellow accessories to school and purchase a yellow ribbon to pin to their school uniform. Why wear yellow? To symbolise a brighter future for First Nations children. The money raised will support Children’s Ground projects in Australia.

As mentioned, later this year, nine students from SAC will visit Pipalyatjara, a remote community in north-west South Australia. A group of Duke of Edinburgh Award participants will also visit the Tiwi Islands. For 13 years, the College has sustained a connection with these communities. While SAC has gifted them material support, their communities have enriched students and staff with a wealth of knowledge and a deeper appreciation for land and culture.

As Dr King said, and Karen Mundine echoed, “the arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

Something cannot bend without a force against it, and it is the great force for understanding and community that is bending the arc towards not just justice, but reconciliation, at St Aloysius College.

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing & Communications Team