From the Principal
As I write we are in the middle of National Reconciliation Week.
As part of the awareness-raising and celebrations our Year 10 History class accepted an invitation to join 3,000 other students in the Long Walk re-enactment at Aquinas College Ringwood. In their fifth year of running the event, Aquinas made 2016 a community event and invited 10 local Catholic primary schools and 13 Catholic secondary colleges. They were also joined by the neighbouring government primary school as well as Minaret Islamic College and Mount Scopus College. Representatives from the Archdiocese, Caritas, Catholic Education Melbourne and Aboriginal Catholic Ministry also attended. The Long Walk re-enactment is an expression of community acceptance and tolerance and a demonstration of support for reconciliation and Indigenous issues. This is something our Year 10 students were very keen to be involved in and an activity from which they gained valuable understanding and appreciation of a crucial social issue for all Australians.
Michael Long and Gavin Wanganeen attended the re-enactment and spoke passionately to the students about the issues and problems around reconciliation, but most importantly, how we can all help address the problems with empathy, tolerance and understanding. There were some terrific lessons for those students in attendance and clear links to our Lasallian ethos in relation to respect, justice, love, peace and hope. One of the five core principles of Lasallian education we are actively promoting this year is ‘An Inclusive Community’, and greater education and understanding around reconciliation will benefit us all.
Reconciliation involves building positive and respectful relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the benefit of all Australians. To create positive change we need more people talking about the issues and getting involved. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to contribute to building a reconciled Australia. Every year, it is held between two significant milestones in Australia’s history, 27 May and 3 June.
27 May is the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which more than 90% of Australians voted ‘Yes’ to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The day before National Reconciliation Week, 26 May, is National Sorry Day, which as first held in Sydney in 1998 and is now commemorated nationally to remember and honour the Stolen Generations.
3 June marks the historic 1992 Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia recognised native title – the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights over their lands did survive British colonisation.
The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2016 is Our History, Our Story, Our Future. Our History, Our Story, Our Future is derived from the State of Reconciliation in Australia report, which asks all Australians to reflect on our national identity, and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights in our nation’s story: ‘Our History’ reminds us all that historical acceptance is essential to our reconciliation journey. Historical acceptance will exist when all Australians understand and accept the fact that past laws, practices and policies deeply affected the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, often having devastating immediate impacts and causing much of the disadvantage that exists today. It is also a commitment to ensuring these wrongs are never repeated in the future.
‘Our Story’ reflects the fact that the journey towards reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s story, as do the stories of both trauma and triumph told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It also encourages each and every one of us to make reconciliation part of our own story.
‘Our Future’ reinforces that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, in the knowledge that we believe in fairness for everyone, that our diversity makes us richer, and that together, we are stronger.
A short video outlining the important themes and message of National Reconciliation Week can be found here. I urge you to take a look and have a think about the critical role true reconciliation can play in all our lives.
As a gesture and acknowledgement of Reconciliation Week staff also participated in a prayer for reconciliation and understanding at Monday’s staff seminar and the prayers in the Daily Bulletin this week have followed an Indigenous theme.
Reconciliation and Indigenous issues are of particular interest to our staff and students and the Long Walk at Aquinas was a welcome invitation and opportunity to increase our involvement and awareness. As ever, De La Salle students have a healthy interest in social justice issues and we are looking at a variety of ways in which we can build understanding and support in this domain.
De La Salle Brothers’ Golden Jubilee Celebrations
Our sister De La Salle school in Sydney, Oakhill College at Castle Hill, recently hosted a major celebration, paying tribute to eight remarkable men who marked their 50th or 60th anniversary as De La Salle Brothers this year. Four of these Brothers have worked for extended periods of time here at De La Salle Malvern in recent decades and will be fondly remembered among staff and Old Collegians from the 1990s to the present.
A mass was held on 15 May at the De La Salle Chapel in a building familiar to many of the Brothers as their training centre when they entered the novitiate more than half a century ago. The celebrations coincided with not only Pentecost Sunday, but also the Feast Day of our Founder, St John Baptist de La Salle. The celebration truly reflected the rich diversity of the Lasallian Mission in Australia, with half the Brothers having worked for the welfare agency yourtown (formerly BoysTown) and many having spent lengthy periods in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Six Brothers celebrated their Golden Jubilee, including several whom a good number of you will know quite well. Principal at De La Salle Malvern from 1997 – 2004 and now the Lasallian Facilitator at yourtown in Brisbane, Br Tim Peter is marking his 50th anniversary. Always the gentleman, Br Tim was a popular and influential leader in his term as principal here, overseeing many changes and developments, not least the building of the Old Collegians’ wing, facilitating the move of Year 10s from Tiverton to Kinnoull.
Another Malvern favourite Br Denis Loft (here 1989 – 90 and 2005 – 10 and 2013) also celebrated 50 years with the Brothers. Perhaps best known at Malvern for establishing the highly popular Coolies immersion program in India when he was a teacher here, Br Denis is also well known for his work with Solidarity for South Sudan, where he has been based since 2014, and as the former principal of the Hohola Youth Development Centre and Jubilee Catholic Secondary School in Port Moresby.
Br Gabriel O’Shea also marked his Golden Jubilee. Br Gabe is well known to most people who have been involved in our Malvern community in the past 17 years, having worked in and around the College since 1999 in a variety of roles. Gabe is also remembered and well respected for his work in the remote PNG Highlands communities of Tapini and Mount Hagen in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Brothers all renewed their vows and were presented with candles marked with the Signum Fidei Crest of the De La Salle order which they all left around a statue of the Founder in the Oakhill chapel. At a celebratory lunch following the Mass, Diamond Jubilarian Br William Good led the cutting of a cake to mark a very special occasion for the Brothers and their friends and families. Brother Visitor David Hawke also presented each Brother with a plaque to commemorate such a remarkable achievement. On behalf of all in the Malvern community we offer our congratulations and support to all the Jubilarians.
Mr Peter Houlihan