ASC Brooke Prentis July 2023

Anglican Schools Commission

Learning to Listen

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Penelope Russel, Executive Officer, Western Australian Anglican Schools Association, Director of Teaching and Learning, Anglican Schools Commission

What is aboriginal spirituality? What is the Voice to Parliament and is it necessary? Is there a positive story of Christian faith told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? What is ‘truth telling’? What about reconciliation?

These were the questions being explored by Aboriginal Christian leader Brooke Prentis last month at a series of student and teacher seminars. The seminars were organised by the Western Australian Anglican Schools Association and hosted by the Anglican Schools Commission and Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.

Brooke Prentis is a Wakka Wakka woman (an area north-west of Brisbane). She is an international speaker, writer, educator, Chartered Accountant, poet, church pastor and activist. Brooke is also the first Aboriginal person to be appointed CEO of a national Christian organisation in Australia, during her time at Common Grace.

Brooke spent time with students explaining concepts outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart - ‘Voice, treaty and truth.’ and why all three are needed for a truly reconciled Australia. Brooke spoke with a powerful sense of justice and hope. She expressed her desire for Aboriginal Christian leaders to be acknowledged for their contributions to Australian society and their relentless pursuit of justice; figures such as William Cooper. Cooper's remarkable legacy includes organising the historic Day of Mourning protest on January 26, 1938. On the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia, he and other Aboriginal activists protested the mistreatment and marginalisation of Aboriginal peoples. This powerful demonstration marked a pivotal moment in the struggle for Indigenous rights and recognition.

Brooke also conducted workshops for chaplains and educators, delving into Aboriginal perspectives in the curriculum, Aboriginal Spirituality, and the art of Deep Listening. She invited the attendees to become guests of ancient hosts on ancient lands, facilitating a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. Through sharing her personal story of Christian faith, Brooke conveyed that despite facing disappointments and struggles, her journey is one of immense hope and joy. Moreover, her faith allows her to embrace her Aboriginal identity and Christianity.

Brooke Prentis's visit left an indelible impact on our community. Her message of reconciliation, friendship, and the power of listening with love resonated deeply with all who attended her seminars. As an association of Anglican schools we look forward to continuing our journey towards reconciliation with renewed passion and understanding.

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Published in Messenger July 2023

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