In late May this year I travelled with a group of 16 other Principals to Hobart Tasmania to participate in the Sacred Land 'Exploring an Australian Spirituality' program. This was program was designed by Helena Goldsmith (Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools).
I decided to attend this program to deepen my understanding about our First Nations people and guide our staff in this area. When I meet each year with my teachers for their Annual Review meeting they always say that they would like to know more about Indigenous Perspectives and how to incorporate our First Nations history in to classroom planning and learning.
The program was developed to enable Principals to:
- visit diverse natural environments
- connect with history and culture
- listen and experience ceremony and sacred dreaming stories of the Palawa/Pakana (Tasmanian Aboriginal people)
- journey deeper into one's personal story to gain an understanding of how we inhabit our own 'sacred land' and live our personal 'Australian spirituality'
The seven day experiential program focused on:
- Aboriginal story and spirituality
- Australian story and colonialism
- story of the natural environment
- participants' personal story
- re-imagined understandings
During the seven days we gathered each morning for prayer to set the scene for what we were going to encounter during the day. Before dinner each evening we met to share our 'wonderings' from the day and pray together.
Since returning from this memorable and challenging experience I have shared my learning with our staff in Professional Learning opportunities. I finished the program with many questions. The biggest question for me was, why don't we know more about the history of our First People?
On Friday our staff were given a 'snapshot' of First Nations history to provide them with some background knowledge for our learning today.
Stephen Nash (Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools) joined our staff onsite today to focus on three themes - voice, recognition and truth in relation to Aboriginal Spirituality and our Catholic faith.
We started the day by revisiting 'The Uluru Statement from the Heart'. The Uluru Statement calls for the 'establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution'. We viewed the articulate presentation of this statement by Dean Parkin. Australians are invited to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a better future.
Our staff will continue to explore this area of the curriculum to ensure our students have the opportunity to authentically engage with age appropriate aspects of the story of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.