The theme for the 2017 Justice and Democracy Seminar Day was Reconciliation. This year marked the 50 year anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, when 90% of Australian voters said ‘YES’ for Aboriginal people to be counted in the census. Students from several Kildare Ministries school came together to learn about Reconciliation. Our day began with a prayer and an acknowledgement of country before our first guest speaker, Mark Clarke, Executive Officer, Office for Justice and Peace, asked everyone to take off a shoe and walk around the room. Students were quick to put their shoe back on, even though they were never instructed to do so. The reason for this was that they were “uncomfortable” with only one shoe and felt the need to rectify the situation. “Aha!” Mark said, and he proceeded to tell his audience of the former and current treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which made us all very uncomfortable and inspired to take action for change.
Delsie Lillyst (Gunditjmara and Bunitj), Catholic Education Melbourne, held an engaging workshop which the students found confronting and inspiring. They formed their own tribal groups, made their own flags and dances, only to have all their hard work destroyed. As the students tried to repair the torn pieces of paper flags they realised that what they had would never be the same.
Luckily, lunchtime arrived to rejuvenate saddened spirits and allow everyone time to reflect and enjoy a delicious meal, prepared by Killester’s VET Hospitality students. The mood was quick to pick up, with the help of some live music.
Refuelled and determined to “take the next steps” the students brainstormed and shared their plans for Reconciliation week back at their own schools. Their passion for the cause shone through and there was no doubt that they would be role model advocates among their peers.
Thank you to the Year 11 and 12 Justice and Democracy students who spend countless lunchtimes to organise this important day. Thank you to all involved who helped make this day a success.