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The First Step

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Acknowledgement - The First Step

Guildford Grammar School respectfully acknowledge the past and present traditional owners of the land on which we stand, the Noongar Whadjuk people who are the custodians.

Together we recognise the contributions of Aboriginal Australians and non-Aboriginal Australians to the education of all children and people in this country we all live in and share – Australia.

The Aboriginal calendar is filled with significant events from January to December, many of which Guildford Grammar School participate in and acknowledge. This year during National Reconciliation Week, the School encouraged members of our community to recognise our shared history with Indigenous peoples and our journey as a nation.

It was a time to reflect on some significant events that have impacted the Custodians of Country, and consequently, their descendants. The Mabo decision, Stolen Generations, 'Sorry Day' and 1967 referendum, are significant events in Australia's history and are at the forefront of National Reconciliation Week.

In the lead up to the week, we asked several of our Indigenous students to reflect and write a sentence about what the week means to them, and the impact of the aforementioned major events within the Indigenous community.

These reflections were displayed within the school chapel for staff and students to read, with the opulent Gothic Revival architectural typology adding to the reverence of a contemplative space.

Some of the themes that were visited were sensitive and raw, but the emotional maturity of the students was astounding, providing a genuine insight into our Aboriginal youth.

Many of our Indigenous students live within two distinct and polarising cultures, and the exhibition gave a firsthand insight into the difficulties and realities they face as they navigate their way through both.

Year 10 student Jalen wrote:

‘It is important for me to go to a school like Guildford Grammar to teach others about Aboriginal people, in the hope they will see Aboriginal people in a positive light, not what people want or expect to see. But I am grateful for the two worlds that I do live in and wish for them to not be 2 separate worlds but one.’

Year 11 student Tjiirdm wrote:

‘Even though 'this and that' has been done, I still feel that nothing has truly changed. Aboriginal people still are stereotyped and discriminated against till this day. It is embedded in our society. Casual racism still exists, and will always exist, until we acknowledge the past, live in the present and look to the future as one.’

Furthermore, Development WA, the City of Perth and Screenwest displayed our Indigenous students' quotes on the big screen at Yagan Square for all the city-goers to see.

The 45-metre high tower where the screen is mounted includes 14 columns, inspired by the bulrushes found at the lakes that once occupied the site. The number of columns represents the 14 Noongar language groups.

The quotes were displayed intermittently throughout the week, encouraging the public to recognise, reconcile with and acknowledge our Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ultimately, we have a long way to go, but acknowledgement is the first step. Let's all work together as one, so we can enjoy this beautiful rich country in which we all live.

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Guildford Grammar School

Guildford Grammar School is an Anglican co-educational private day and boarding school for students in Kindergarten to Year 12.

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