Anglican Schools Commission
Reconciliation and Schools
The Revd Peter Laurence OAM, Chief Executive Officer
It seems only yesterday that the Anglican Schools Commission was welcomed by Reconciliation Australia to the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program, receiving endorsement for our inaugural RAP some three years ago. Since then, we have been flat-out implementing the numerous strategies and actions that comprise the current ‘Reflect’ RAP.
Bringing life to our RAP has been such an energising experience for our schools, and those of us who work in the ASC Head Office. That’s not to say that our schools were not engaged in the reconciliation journey before the RAP. Of course, they were.
But the RAP has carefully and methodically detailed initiatives which will purposefully move us along the path of mutual respect and stronger relationships with the traditional custodians of the lands on which our schools are located, where we work and learn, worship and play… and beyond.
The ASC RAP Committee, which includes aboriginal and non-aboriginal teachers and support staff across ASC schools, meets regularly throughout the year. It monitors our progress in implementing the RAP, celebrates successes and considers how schools might better walk the journey towards reconciliation.
So many components comprise bringing life to our RAP across the schools. Underpinning them must be an aspirational and hope-filled vision. A memorable activity over the past year has been a ‘visioning’ exercise undertaken by our RAP Committee with Principals and some other staff. The aim of the exercise was for the ASC to develop a gracious, inspiring and challenging statement that would capture our strategic direction in the coming years. It would be important for the Vision for reconciliation to capture elements of our Core Values: Justice, Respect, Integrity, and Inclusion. An underlying commitment to the Vision supported the ASC’s strategic intent to “enrich the capacity of our schools to be learning communities, grow their Anglican Identity and be proactive in promoting inclusion, justice and respect for all.”
In many ways, our draft Vision is bold in that it culminates in ‘Treaty’, set in the context of Australia being on a journey towards such a goal.
Since the drafting of this Vision, much effort around Australia has been focused on the upcoming ‘Indigenous Voice to Parliament’ referendum and the significant implications of this initiative of the current Commonwealth Government.
The ASC’s draft Vision is a work in progress and will continue to take shape throughout this year, as we actively participate in the reconciliation process, not least through ‘yarnings’ around the Voice.
For now, let me share with you our brief vision, hopes and aspirations in this space. They are:
- To bring grace, dignity, and respect to the reconciliation conversation;
- A commitment to education that empowers schools and young people to engage meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s history, current reality, and future aspirations; and
- Celebrating difference and strengthening understanding while engaging with culture and language to continue a shared journey to Treaty.
The ASC is close to fully implementing our ‘Reflect’ RAP. Shortly we’ll commence the significant task of drafting an ‘Innovate’ RAP, the second level of strategy and process in reconciliation plans. Here we are, with an enthusiastic and engaged RAP Committee, ready to embark on the next stage.
The ASC has much to celebrate in the small steps taken on our reconciliation journey to date, yet we are only at the beginning.