Lighting a FIRE

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12 July 2017

Our hope is that today as young people, the future decision makers of this great country, that you have come with open minds and hearts to be inspired to Left to right - Nicole Mangelsdorf (Co-Principal), Arweet Carolyn Briggs, Athony Cormick, Brother Rick Gaffney and Teresa Lincoln.lead the way, and that you have the courage and confidence to be people of action, committed to justice and equality for the first peoples of our nation’.

Co-Principal Teresa Lincoln welcomed over 80 students representing five colleges to Kilbreda College, Mentone, to discuss the issues that indigenous communities have faced in the past and still do today. In a student led initiative carried out by Kilbreda’s recently commissioned Friends Igniting Reconciliation through Education (FIRE) Carriers, the thought provoking forum demonstrated the Kilbreda FIRE Carriers commitment to reconciliation and justice for all Australians and featured three highly regarded speakers.

Arweet Carolyn Briggs, a Boon Wurrung senior elder and founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, welcomed the students to country and discussed the history and tragedy that the Boon Wurrung people had faced. In her compelling presentation she stressed the importance of knowing the history and culture of the people of whatever land you are on; a valuable reminder for the visiting students to take away from the day and one that the Kilbreda FIRE Carriers are spreading through the College community.

Brother Rick Gaffney, a former principal from Luurpna Catholic School in Balgo, spoke of the differences between traditional learning and current education, addressing how the education system is leaving indigenous students behind by failing to incorporate needs and customs. He also focused on the strengths of indigenous culture, explaining in detail, how nothing is individually owned and how sharing is just a way of life.Image of students from Kilbreda College Mentone, Sacred Heart Girls' College Oakleigh, St Bede's College Mentone, St James College Bentleigh and Star of the Sea College Gardenvale.

Brian Walker from Monash University spoke about racism in Australia. In his deeply personal presentation, he shared how racism had effected his mental health and offered a broader view of racism in the media as well as other issues that continue the cycle of dehumanising Aboriginal people. This led to student workshops that prompted interesting and insightful conversations; a main objective of the forum.

The Kilbreda College community respects indigenous spiritual connections and beliefs and aims to work together on a journey to help reconcile wrongs done in the past and to deepen the understanding of Indigenous culture within the college.