Reconciliation week 2021 acknowledged by Catholic community

03 Jun 2021

By Amanda Murthy

Students and staff walk through the smoke at the launch of a new Chisholm Catholic College Yarning Circle, as part of their Reconciliation Week acknowledgement on 26 May. Photo: Supplied.

Catholic schools and organisations affiliated with the Archdiocese of Perth observed the National Reconciliation week from 27 May to 3 June, as part of an on-going movement to pray for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia and continue working hand in hand to learn from past mistakes, and work towards a better future for all.  

In Perth, Chisholm Catholic College’s contribution was a new dedicated open space called the Yarning Circle named Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny meaning ‘Our Place of Learning’ in the Noongar language.

The event held on Wednesday, 26 May, began with a smoking ceremony, led by the Wadumbah Aboriginal Dance Group.

Chisholm Catholic College Principal John Bormolini said the name, which was chosen by their Aboriginal students, represented Chisholm’s togetherness, a place of reflection and learning for the entire school community.

“For the students, “Our place is Chisholm and it is where we learn,” Mr Bormolini cited.

“Reconciliation continues to be a growing focus on our journey of understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture and history. At the heart of this journey is the true spirit of getting together and visible action in our surroundings and community.”

Catholic Archdiocese of Perth LifeLink agency Centrecare Incorporated Director Tony Pietropiccolo AM whose work involves advocating for children’s rights said, that despite the significant evidence of the severe trauma created by the removal of children from their families, there has been little progress in this area since the release of the 1997 Bringing them Home report.

“Much of the disadvantage in which Aboriginal and Torress Strait Islander children live is caused by poverty – This must change.”

Students and staff gather at the new Chisholm Catholic College’s Yarning Circle, Ngalla Maya Kadidjiny meaning ‘Our Place of Learning’ in the Noongar language, as part of their Reconciliation Week acknowledgement on 26 May. Photo: Supplied.

St Vincent de Paul Society National Council President Claire Victory said the historic 1967 referendum although a successful testament to ‘what is possible where there is shared community and political will,’ remains a great shame that the gap between life opportunities for Indigenous and other Australians remain.

“Better education and healthcare have led to career paths for some Indigenous Australians, but too many are still overrepresented in juvenile justice, prisons, out of home care, and across social services,” Ms Victory stated.

“We support the notion that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

The council welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission in response to the Indigenous voice co-design interim report to the Australian Government.

The first National Sorry Day was observed in 1998, a year after the first “Bringing them Home report, released in 1997, documented the enormous suffering endured by Indegenous families as children were removed from their parents and kin.

The report revealed that one in five children in out of home care were Aboriginal or Torres Strat Islander. In 1997, 20 per cent of Indigenous children were removed by child protection authorities and in 2015, this percentage had increased to 35 per cent. In 2019, one in three children in care were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The formal apology came in 2008 when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister. The best former Prime Minister John Howard had done, in 1999, was to put forth a “Motion of Reconciliation” that expressed regret and sympathy, but no admission of culpability. In the meantime, there was a motion to rename the day “The National Day of Healing,” which passed in 2005.