Ignatius Park Connects with the Palm Island Community: Student Reflections 

Recently Ignatius Park College, Townsville, celebrated National Reconciliation Week for 2021.  The dates commemorate two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey — the successful 1967 Referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision, respectively.

The theme for this year was ‘More than a word, Reconciliation Takes Action’.  Andrew Kirkpatrick -Program Leader – Indigenous and Multicultural, said, “the theme calls on us to not just speak about reconciliation but implement ways of embedding it into our way of life. Ignatius Park College actively seeks to reconcile through the development and implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan in all that we do at the school.”  Actions of relationships in the classroom, around the school and in the community are important in the act of reconciliation.  “Respect can be taught in the classroom, with the history and progress of reconciliation as we have come far, but there still is a way to go. We as a school have a responsibility to raise awareness of the current affairs and issues in the public domain with fairness and respect for all.”

Over the last few weeks Ignatius Park College has been participating in an immersive program at Saint Michaels on Palm Island.  The boys from Year 12 engaged in reading, school activities and lunch time footy.  Here are a couple of the boys recollection of the day.

My experience on Palm Island was unforgettable!

The recent excursion to St Michael’s on Palm Island was one of the best trips I have ever been on with my time at Ignatius Park. We flew over early in the morning over the beautiful reefs surrounding Palm Island and headed off to spend the day helping at the St Michaels Catholic Primary School. It was incredible to see how different the school is compared to the primary schools in Townsville. It is a small school with not many students and staff compared to what we are used to. But it was amazing to see so many smiling faces on the children. At the start of the school day, we helped with the Year 1’s and 2’s with reading, writing and also helping them run their school assembly. Later that day we went and visited the Year 6 girls and boys and helped them with their English skills and common understanding. We also participated in basketball, and kick-ball. I loved just running around a lunch with all the kids playing bull rush and footy and even sitting down having a yarn with a few of them. I made heaps of new mates and learnt heaps of new thing about Aboriginal culture. At the end of the day the boys and girls put on a performance showing us their cultural dances and deadly moves. It was an amazing experience and a day to remember helping me connect with culture and connect with the students at this school. The students at St Michaels were amazing to work with and just a great mob who loved us being there. I am happy to say I got the most I could out of the trip, and it really did help me acknowledge and understand more about culture. I hope I can share my story with my mates at school and try and build more reconciliation in our community.

Gus Rees Year 12

An Experience of Gratitude through Reconciliation

If I could summarise my trip to Palm Island into one word it would have to be, gratitude. I am grateful for my school; I am grateful for my people, and I am grateful for my culture. Without these three aspects in my life, I would not be the man I am today. The experience I had with the students at St Michael’s gave me an opportunity to be a role model within the community of Palm Island among the students. I really enjoyed working with the Prep students, it provided me with a chance to get to know the innocent and well-behaved children that are the future leaders of the community. We coloured in, played with blocks, and practiced writing. It was humbling to see the children learn and play with one another, and I was just happy to be there to witness. Upon arriving home, I got the chance to reflect on my day at St Michael’s. I cannot thank my school, Ignatius Park, enough for the opportunity to go to Palm Island and break down the stereotypes wrapped around the beautiful island many call home.

Braedan Kennedy Year 12