Last week we celebrated Harmony Day and recognised National Reconciliation Week through student activities, chapel and a cultural day.
On Wednesday afternoon the whole school gathered to celebrate the diversity of cultures we have in Australia. We began with a deeply significant acknowledgement of country and smoking ceremony by Aboriginal Elder Alan Martin. We were surrounded by the beautiful smells and smoke which signify cleansing and renewal. Charlie Alcock-Reedy Ayriss (Yr 6) spoke about the significance of Harmony Day and Sandra Miller (Yr 10) shared some of her personal journey about coming to Australia from Africa. The girls were then given hands to write messages of encouragement and hope and we stood together as one community.
On Thursday in the Middle and Senior Years, girls with Indigenous heritage led our Chapel service. The girls spoke about the significance of Reconciliation Week and National Sorry Day sharing first-person stories from the Bringing Them Home report. National Sorry Day recognises the failures of the past with policies that saw children removed from their homes and families, losing connection with their land and culture. Reconciliation Week gives us a chance to look to the future, finding ways to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and provides a path for us to journey together with courage.
At the end of the week, the girls shared elements of their Indigenous cultures with the girls in the Junior Years. They told stories, painted some traditional artwork, learnt songs and dances and finally, all participated in planting a tree. We blessed and planted trees on both campuses to symbolise growing together in unity no matter who we are or what our cultural background.
Here is the prayer we used on Harmony Day.
O God You created all people in your image.
We thank you for the amazing variety of races and cultures in our world.
Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of friendship and show us your presence in those who are most different from us.
Help us to love and care for each other just as you care and love each one of us.
You call us to live in peace and harmony with everyone in our country,
yet we often find it difficult to accept those from different cultures who live in our communities.
We are called to recognise and respect the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture; yet, sometimes, we ignore the beliefs, laws and traditions of our first peoples.
As we walk together, strong in faith on this Harmony Day, let us turn to God with our hopes and prayers.
Creator Spirit, you are our God who brings peace. We ask you to bless all the sick, homeless and imprisoned; the weary, the lonely and the lost. We pray for compassion, kindness, healing and protection for all those who are suffering.
Creator Spirit, you are our God who accepts. Help us to open our arms, hearts and minds to all our brothers and sisters in Australia and appreciate the many cultures, languages and backgrounds of our people. God our Creator, give all of us hearts like Jesus’, open to the experiences, hopes, troubles and goodness of everyone we meet. Help us to be compassionate towards all, sharing the load of each other and all those in need.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mrs Deb Mouzouris
Middle and Senior Years Teacher Aid
Mrs Brenda Suhr
Assistant Head of Junior Years