Watta Watnanda Day

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28 August 2023

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Melbourne have come together for Watta Watnanda Day.

Held at the Aborigines Advancement League in Thornbury, the day brought students together to reflect on their shared identity through discussion, presentations and activities. The students toured local murals, paying tribute to significant members of their community, as well as visiting Aboriginal Catholic Ministry.

Watta Watnanda Day

‘When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students see themselves as a minority in their school, we can bring them together and it gives them a sense of connectedness, community and solidarity’, said Judy Connell, General Manager of Learning Diversity at Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS). ‘It’s important for our students to connect with Elders of the community, and share their stories and heritage, as well as connecting to places with a significant history to tell their own stories.’

‘My own kids participated in these days too and they still run into people who they met’, said Sherry Balcombe from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry. ‘These days are about connection, and they can see that they’re connected with something bigger and that they’re part of that – and that’s a beautiful thing.’

Watta Watnanda Day

‘This day provides a safe way that students can connect with students from other mob’, said Helen Christensen from MACS, ‘and generally these students don’t have the opportunity to do that in their school. It’s about letting them know they’re not on their own.’

For the students, the day can open up all sorts of possibilities. ‘I’m learning a lot more about culture, and I just had a yarn and it was very mind-opening’, said student Rozeina from Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows. ‘I’m hoping to get a better sense of belonging from the day, plus I get to meet people from other schools who share the same culture.’