Somerset Times

Acknowledgement. Healing. Reconciliation

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 9, Term Two, 2019

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A small group of staff and students represented Somerset College and played an active part in the Myall Creek Commemoration Service, Sunday 9 June. The service pays respect to the victims of a senseless massacre, one of many in the region - which occurred 10 June, 1838 when 28 unarmed Wirrayaraay women, children and elderly men were murdered by a mob of stockmen.

Our students were asked to give readings at various ‘stations’ as pilgrims walked along the rainbow-serpent shaped path towards the monument. It was here that speeches, dedications, traditional dance and a moving pledge was read by representatives of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

Highlights included discussions with prominent academic leaders in Professor Lisa Jackson-Pulver (USYD) and Geoff Langford (ANU); Marcus Ware reading the pledge on behalf of non-indigenous students; witnessing descendents of the perpetrators and descendents of the survivors embrace in an authentic act of reconciliation and lastly, walking back to Myall Station in solidarity with other attendees in perfect sunshine was empowering for us all.

To top off a significant weekend, Somerset College’s art students were awarded prizes in the annual “Thoughts & Dreams” Myall Creek Art, Writing and Song Competition. Special thanks and congratulations go to Natalie Blauberg (first Prize), Darcy Beynon (Commended) and Laura Cosson (Commended) for their thoughtful pieces.

I would like to acknowledge the students, who were humble and engaged in their interactions with many at the gathering and through their readings of the history at ‘stations’ along the journey to the monument; and staff member Clare Walker for giving up her long weekend so that this important school representation could occur. I will leave you to appreciate the outcomes of such a trip through the lens of a student who attended.

"I have learnt that the attitude and ignorance that I exhibited prior to this trip is an embodiment of the problems Indigenous Australia faces. Through a lack of education, exposure and explanation, I failed to understand the gravity and the impact of the way white settlers treated aboriginals. I never truly understood the effects and extent of the intergenerational trauma. Without an embracement of our past, we will never completely identify and reconcile with Indigenous Australia. This weekend has taught me a significant amount about my country: I continually see, what seems to be, an increasing disparity on equality. This was ironically, highlighted by the Great Dividing Range. What is Australia trying to hide? How can Australia claim it is a liberal democracy if it does not truly represent each citizen equally? If we continue to blatantly white wash our history, then we are arguably due to repeat it. Steps should be taken now. I will not lie and say that I will do everything in my power to focus my life on helping indigenous Australians. However, I do promise that whenever I can help indigenous people or promote their culture, I will wholeheartedly. Hopefully, one day I’ll be in a position where making change will be easier."

A group of Year 10 students will spend a week in Barambah working alongside indigenous and non-indigenous students from Murgon and Moffatdale State Schools. Their journey starts on Sunday.

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