19 November 2020

NAIDOC Week 2020

NAIDOC Week 2020

Acknowledgement to Country

We, the Saint Ignatius College community, acknowledge that we stand on what was, is and always will be, Aboriginal land.
 We pay our respects to the Waddawurrung people of the Kulin nation, past and present.

NAIDOC Week acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 - with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.

The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples.

NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.

Our College celebrated this important Indigenous Week in Personal Learning classes by understanding the history, struggles and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and creating an ILC display of artwork which symbolizes the Rainbow Serpent of the Dreamtime whilst the figure inside the shape of Australia is a representation of Indigenous Australians showing that this country - since the dawn of time - Always Was, Always Will Be Aboriginal Land. There was also an ILC quiz, prayers that focused on reconciliation and healing, and student leaders wearing t-shirts to facilitate conversations about this year’s theme.

The highlight was a memorial service on Remembrance Day, Wednesday, November 11 led by FIRE carrier and 2021 Justice Captain, Toby Mew. Ms Wood and 7 Ward created Indigenous crosses symbolizing our Aboriginal war veterans and Year 8 students researched the names of these men who fought for their country in WW1 and WW2 and were forgotten. 

We remembered them by placing their named cross in our memorial garden and paying homage to the sacrifice they made despite the fact that their efforts and service were not recognized by our Government. At lunchtime, students were invited to read their story and tie ribbons on the railing around the garden as a gesture of solidarity and respect.

Below is one Indigenous story that Toby shared in his speech:

William Allan Irwin of the Gamilaraay Nation was one of these heroic Indigenous servicemen.

He enlisted to serve in WW1 in 1916 and travelled to Europe with the 33rd battalion. He was described by his family as being a “crack rifleman” determined to fight for his country.

Irwin played a major role in the Battle of Messines and was part of the successful defence of a French province. In each of these battles, Irwin was evacuated to England with serious shrapnel and bullet wounds. On each of these occasions, Irwin returned to the battlefield as quickly as he could.

Advancing though the Western Front, during the Battle of Mont St Quentin, the 33rd battalion became pinned down by machine guns at an area known as Road Wood.

William Irwin’s commanding officer had this to say about him: “Single handed and in the face of extremely heavy fore, Private Irwin rushed three separate gun posts and captured three guns and crews. It was whilst rushing a fourth machine gun that he was severely wounded.”

Irwin did not survive to tell the tale. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry, the first Indigenous person to receive such an award.

Lest We Forget.

Congratulations and sincerest thanks to the many people involved in our celebration. As a staff FIRE carrier, I felt very proud of our students’ desire to ensure the truth about our history is told and to share stories that reflect the significant contribution Indigenous people have made in war service, literature, science, music, sport and the arts. People like Anita Heiss, Bruce Pascoe, Stan Grant, Marcia Langton, A.P. Elkin, Christine Anu, Jessica Mauboy, Emily Wurramara, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Adam Goodes, Lionel Rose, Nova Peris, Albert Namitjira, Browyn Bancroft, Richard Bell and Clifford Possum Tjapeltjarri to name a few.

May our future be one of shared understanding and healing.

Deb Hodge FIRE carrier and ATSI committee member