A reflection inspired by EREA’s Let's Talk Aboriginal Immersion
As we journeyed through the communities of Dubbo, Moree, Lightning Ridge, Goodooga and Brewarrina, we were witness to the beauty and power of our First Peoples. The integrity, wisdom and openness with which they shared their story gifted us not only with an experience of this ancient culture, but also with an invitation to make the story ‘ours’. A story that we have found ways to hide and disempower. Sadly the pattern was on repeat when I returned home to hear our Prime Minister dismiss the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Awakened now more deeply to the reality of the past and the present, we have the power to do something. Many of us may recently have had the chance to once again join in chorus with the Oils to declare that the ‘time has come to say fair’s fair’. Having just said Yes to equality for some, it is time to extend the same to those who came before us to live so harmoniously with this ancient land.
As educators, committed to liberation and possibility, let us do what we can to be all that we can be to make this happen. A fire, that still remains, has been lit. I am committed, through the power of education, to do what I can. After all, my and our liberation is bound up in theirs.
The impact of this transformative immersion is evident in the reflections from fellow participants below:
"I felt a profound sadness and sense of grief for what has transpired in the Brewarrina and other regions. The message Brad gave us was that it is okay to be ‘uncomfortable’ about what has happened. We can be uncomfortable and also honest – honest about what we have experienced and seen… Though I am still trying to understand and delve more deeply into the experience it has been very profound and altered my perspective tremendously already. I am uncomfortable."
"I have come to the realisation that every day was an aha moment, from the young men teaching the children around the campfire to Bindy’s little ones learning to sing and count in language. In between, the realisation of great wrong at the eerie massacre sight at Myall Creek, Auntie Noela’s resignation and disappointment, the power of Tom and Lachie and Bradley, the beauty of Goodooga, the desolation of Brewarrina. Finally, the power of Cassie and the fracturing of a race of people into a thousand pieces after colonisation. Since then for many of us they have been ‘hidden in plain sight."
"I saw breathtaking forever changing countryside, smiling children thriving in their community, families sharing culture, story, ceremony, song and dance. I saw hope for the future…I was inspired watching Damo catching witchetty grubs with his grandfather, their relationship with each other and mother earth and the willingness of an 11 year old boy to freely share his knowledge. I am inspired to help our young people make these connections in our community with the help of our Gubi Gubi elders."
We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia as the traditional owners and custodians of the land of our schools. We are inspired and nurtured by their wisdom, spirituality and experience. We commit ourselves to actively work alongside them for reconciliation and justice. We pay our respects to the Elders; past, present and future. As we take our next step we remember the first footsteps taken on this sacred land.