National Identity Leaders’ Conference: Gospel Spirituality and Liberating Practice

Poorer for the absence of colleagues unable to leave metro Melbourne, Identity Leaders from across EREA gathered at the State Library of Queensland (Yuggera Country) for their national conference, Gospel Spirituality and Liberating Practice on June 15 and 16.

Fittingly, Judith Hurley (Edmund Rice College, Wollongong) and Jessica Flegg (St Francis Catholic College, Edmondson Park) led an opening ritual that provided an appropriate backdrop to consider our commitment to a mutual relationship with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia and what it asks of us. Led by educators and friends of EREA Uncle Joe kirk and Cynthia Rowan, delegates were invited to consider:

How does Gospel Spirituality inform liberating education practice to address inequity, racism and engage in truth telling and Reconciliation?

How do we choose courage over comfort?

The exploration throughout day one continued via a range of workshops, an open dialogue between Identity Leaders and EREA’s Executive Director, Dr Craig Wattam and then into the evening at the Conference Dinner, via a presentation by Jason Bongers, School Engagement Officer for Edmund Rice Foundation Australia.

Day two began with a powerful story about the creation and development of the tunapri makuminya Project and the transformation experienced by the St Virgil’s community. Led by Bridget Jenkins (Director of Identity, St Virgil’s College, Hobart) and Jamie (Jam) Blair, (trawlwoolway and plangermaireener pakana man – via recording), their sharing revealed the interconnections between a learning community and the very special Country which surrounds them. Following workshops that brought to bare the voice of young people, the conference closed with an update from Ray Paxton, National Director, Liberating Education about an emerging model of Learning – one that sets out how the commitment we hold to Liberating Education is made real through a distinctive set of liberating practices.

Once again, a committed group of educators came together to experience the presence and power of being a national community in mission and walked away with a deeper appreciation of the call of the Gospel to their own lives and to the life of their community.

Luke Edwards (Education Officer – EREA)