Embracing reconciliation

This coming week we are marking National Reconciliation Week at King David. While the lockdown has impacted some of our activities, we will still strive to ensure that meaningful learning is achieved on this important topic. During this time we aim to offer age-appropriate opportunities for our students to deeply engage with ideas around Australia’s rich First Nations’ heritage and history, gain an appreciation of the impacts of British settlement on the First Nations people, and importantly, to find ways that our students can become part of contributing to a reconciled Australia.

The theme of Reconciliation Week this year is “More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.” This has been something that our school community has been focused on in our growth and development of curricular and co-curricular opportunities for our students to engender a sense of connection, respect and appreciation of Australia’s first peoples.

Kirstie Parker, a board member with Reconciliation Australia states that “A reconciled Australia is one where our rights as First Australians are not just respected but championed in all the places that matter.”

Our school has taken many symbolic steps towards reconciliation. These include incorporating acknowledgements of country as part of our normative practice, referring to the relevant First Nations’ language place names and marking Reconciliation and NAIDOC week.

Our actions also include more substantive measures which aim at increasing partnership with First Nations communities and organisations and to provide opportunities for students to interact in person with First Nations people and visit sites of significance to First Nations peoples where possible.

In line with our marking of Reconciliation Week, upon our return to campus, the Senior School will watch a documentary called In My Blood it Runs about Dujuan Hoosan, a young Arrernte and Garrwa boy who lives in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). The documentary is an eye-opening celebration of the rich and powerful cultural heritage that Dujuan possesses and also explores the challenges that he faces negotiating the disadvantages that are reflected in the gaps in economic, employment, justice and health circumstances for First Nations Australians.

Analysis of this documentary along with many other activities is intended to encourage our students to develop a sense of pride in the incredible richness of the world’s oldest continuing culture and motivation to support actions to close the gap.

Such educational activities fall into a broader context of our school’s endeavour to develop a formal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) as a means of embedding our openness to embrace reconciliation as intrinsic in our school identity. I would like to share with you the vision statement that the RAP team has developed in conjunction with parents and students and the support of representative from the Boon Wurrung Foundation:

“As a proud, inclusive, empathetic and progressive Jewish community, The King David School seeks respectfully, meaningfully and directly to engage with the First Nations Peoples of the ground on which the School is situated and beyond, in order to develop lasting friendships, and, through education, help reconcile non-Aboriginal Australia to the continent’s First Nations Peoples.

The King David School seeks to develop positive and respectful friendships with Australia’s First Nations Peoples. With a good heart and an open mind, the King David School pledges to link with local and distant First Nations Peoples wherever practicable in order to help guide and deliver culturally sensitive, appropriate education. In this way we intend that the minds and spirit of its staff, students and community are shaped to recognise, accommodate, value and celebrate the deep cultural richness of Australia’s First Nations Peoples’ histories, stories and perspectives.

The King David School sees this form of reconciliation as the way in which the lives of its community, the First Nations Peoples and Australia can be enriched and made whole.”

Wominjeka and Shabbat Shalom!