Melbourne Girls Grammar acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present, and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
At this time of year, from the 27 May to 3 June, we recognise National Reconciliation Week and acknowledge the oldest continuing culture in human history, the traditional owners of our country and stand with them in solidarity to continue to strive for equity and opportunity for all. The metrics are still not good, socioeconomic positioning, educational attainment, incarceration numbers, suicide figures, morbidity, and mortality rates. At MGGS, we recognise this week in many and different ways such as our virtual Reconciliation Assembly, video messages, flying the indigenous flag and centring the discourse of our learning on understanding our history and the role we each play in healing the harm committed to the Australian Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders.
National Reconciliation Week started as a week of prayer for reconciliation in 1993 (the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples) and was supported by Australia’s major faith communities. It grew from there and in 1996, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation launched Australia’s first National Reconciliation Week. In 2000, approximately 300,000 people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of National Reconciliation Week, to show their support for resolution and understanding and now in 2020 it is part of our national calendar. In 2008, the Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd made the renowned and well received formal Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Speech and each school in Australia received a beautifully illustrated reproduction of this address and it now hangs proudly at MGGS in the Principal’s Office. Additionally, from 2016-2017 the Referendum Council undertook historic dialogues with First Nations on constitutional reform. The outcome of those constitutional dialogues was the national convention held at Yulara in May 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the recommendation for Voice, Treaty and Truth. The Voice to the Parliament is distinctive because it is constituted by traditional owners and recommends that we include acknowledgement in our Constitution.
Melbourne Girls Grammar and the Royal Botanic Gardens rest on the land that for countless generations was a traditional and highly significant camping and meeting place for the local custodians of the area for the Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri of the Kulin people. This is a land with 60,000 years of rich indigenous culture. Each Grammarian spends time in their learning understanding the significance of the history of Aboriginal people to our present site and the relationship to the history of Melbourne. When we weave Acknowledgement of Country into our public narrative, we are doing so to help create a more united Australia, as we all walk together towards reconciliation. This map illustrates the traditional owners throughout Australia.
Through this COVID-19 pandemic, schools have remained optimistic places that provide hope and stability. Schools by their very nature are future focused and so to close, a partial quote from the Apology Speech February 14, 2008 seems in order.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility. A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.
The role we play as a community is clear. When each of us models mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility, our Grammarians benefit, Australia benefits and the world benefits.