Newsletter #6 04/06/2020

Special Reconciliation Week Edition

(27 May – 3 June 2020)

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 
 
The theme for #NRW2020 – In This Together – is now resonating in ways we could not have foreseen when it was announced last year, but it reminds us whether in a crisis or in reconciliation, we are all #InThisTogether.

We can appreciate ‘In This Together’ in another way; re-enlivening the Natural Law of the land. We are dependent upon our indigenous people to safeguard the Natural Laws of our land for the safety and life-promoting influence that is generated by their ceremonies, for the good of everyone who lives in Australia. In this sense we are truly ‘In This Together ‘ and should therefore be supportive of the continuation of all indigenous traditions!

A couple of significant quotes/observations made by Maharishi were:

“It will be the indigenous people of the world who will perpetuate my knowledge.”
and
“The greatness of a nation is measured by how it treats its original people”
~Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 
 
At Maharishi School during the past week, the teachers and students commemorated National Reconciliation Week through a broad range of age-appropriate classroom activities across all year levels , which included:
Reciting a beautiful Acknowledgement of Country each morning
Reading the story “Sorry Day” by Coral Vass & talking about why Sorry Day is so significant
Listening to the story “Sorry Day” on Story box Library
Watching the Kevin Rudd apology speech
Completing a colouring activity and wordsearch based around “In This Together”
Looking at what the Aboriginal language is for the area around Reservoir
Participating in an Aboriginal dot painting lesson
Listening to the song Red, Black & Yellow by the Black Rock Band
Looking at the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags & discussing what the different colours represent
Discussing Sorry Day and the Stolen Generations
Learning about Mabo Day and Indigenous Land Rights
Learning about the Kulin Nations and Seasons
Challenging students to consider what reconciliation means to each of us

There is a natural progression undertaken with the depth of understanding of our students when studying significant issues in areas such as Australian history, Reconciliation Week and Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
The History component of the Victorian Curriculum strives to have students develop an understanding of the past and present experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their identity, and the continuing contribution and value of their culture. This knowledge and understanding is essential for informed and active participation in Australia’s diverse society. We hope this special edition of our School Newsletter gives you a small insight into how this knowledge develops in our students.

To further acknowledge Reconciliation Week, in the area of Performing Arts, Jess Hitchcock (Boite School Chorus ) has produced a great video online on YouTube. ‘Reconciliation Now’ is from the Dhungala Choral Connection Song Book. It was performed by our students at the 2019 Boite School Chorus at Melbourne Town Hall.
Click on this link and enjoy – https://bit.ly/bsconline

We wish upon our school and broader communities all the benefits that come from working towards the goal of building respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, and to create a fair and equal society.

S Charisis (Principal)

Reconciliation Week in the Emeralds Classroom:
Maharishi School believes in the importance of the study of our First Nations cultures and peoples being universally embedded in our curriculum all year around, but events such as Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week are undoubtedly extra special opportunities to connect with community and be a part of the nation-wide observations and celebrations which are unique to those dates.

This year’s Reconciliation Week theme is “In This Together”, and the Emeralds discussed the importance of understanding our magnificent country’s shared history, truth-telling and shared responsibilities and passions for being ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ in daily life. When discussing this year’s theme, we also use the opportunity to understand the meaning of the word ‘reconciliation’ – both in the context of Australia’s treatment of its First Nations peoples and in general.

On May 26, we acknowledged Sorry Day, discussing the Stolen Generations, events leading up to the inaugural Sorry Day in 1997 and Kevin Rudd’s ‘Apology’ speech in 2008. We read some beautiful books and stories on the topic such as “Stolen Girl” by Trina Saffioti and Norma MacDonald, and “Sorry Day” by Coral Vass. In Consciousness-Based Education, we have a Fundamental theme ‘Purification’, and saying ‘sorry’ in many different contexts is a very important part of being able to release stress and restore internal and external happiness and balance. Saying ‘sorry’ is a key part of reconciliation.

On May 27, the Emeralds learned about the 1967 Referendum in which Australians overwhelmingly voted ‘yes’ to changing two important laws in our Constitution which would make significant improvements in their civil rights. June 3rd is ‘Mabo Day’ and we studied Eddie Koiki Mabo’s life and achievements in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and the overturning of the ‘terra nullius’ claims of the British Crown in 1770.

Whilst observing and learning about all of these special events and days, we also focussed on local culture, for example during the week we paid special acknowledgement to our local Traditional Owners by watching Aunty Joy Murphy read her book “Welcome to Country” and watching Wurundjeri Elder Colin Hunter Jnr conduct a Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony from the Wurundjeri land; being the land upon which we teach and learn every day. We reviewed the areas which cover the Kulin Nations of our region and discussed the seven seasons of this part of the land. Did you know that right now it is ‘waring’ or wombat season (which goes from April to July)? The Emeralds also reviewed the design and meaning of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and made chronological understandings by creating an Indigenous Civil Rights timeline. We enjoyed watching a video of Thomas Mayor read his magnificent new book “Finding our Heart”, which tells the story of how the Uluru Statement from the Heart was conceived and achieved.

Finally, on the last day of Reconciliation Week we reflected and ‘wrapped up’ the week by talking about what we can do to be agents or ambassadors of reconciliation and what reconciliation means to each of us. We talked about action in leadership and reflected on all of the inspirational leaders we had studied during the week. Maharishi says that “great leadership inspires purification”, and in our modern world it is vital that as a group of learners we always reinvigorate ourselves with inspirational leaders such as those we studied this week. Therefore, this week also provided us with an opportunity to learn about world icons such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

The Maharishi School believes in growing good people for society, and the interest, involvement and passion with which our Emeralds engaged in their learning during Reconciliation Week should give us all great heart for our country’s future.
On Sorry Day: https://www.abc.net.au/btn/classroom/apology-10th-anniversary/10521928
Kevin Rudd ‘Apology’ speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Dild-xAzJ0
Aunty Joy Murphy’s ‘Welcome to Country’:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay1eo7Tj-NA
Wurundjeri Welcome to Country: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzLbdw3d7UU
On Eddie Mabo: https://www.abc.net.au/btn/classroom/mabo-legacy/11143302

Thomas Mayor – Finding our heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEqbxdtS13Q
On National Reconciliation Week: https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/

Sam Russell (Emeralds Teacher)