Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage

Yesterday we recognised and acknowledged Sorry Day (26 May). It is a time to remember the past policies of forced removal and reflect on the sad and painful stories of the Stolen Generations. It is a time to recognise the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the power of saying ‘sorry’. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in front of parliament and our nation:

“We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians…For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry”

Did you know that in the year 2000, over 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation and saying sorry to the Stolen Generations?

At Cardijn it is our practice that we acknowledge that we gather on the land of the Kaurna people and that this Reconciliation Week seeks to build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The date of National Reconciliation Week represents significant moments in our country’s history. May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum when Australians voted to remove clauses in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. June 3 is when the historic Mabo decision was made in 1992. This decision was particularly significant as it saw the official recognition of native title claims. This year’s theme ‘Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage’ is about a chance for everyone to take some fresh action to spark a change in our school or community – no matter how big or small. We endeavour to deepen our understanding of our shared histories and cultures, to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements.

Another significant event this week is the annual Tenison Exchange. The Tension Woods/Cardijn sporting exchange began in 1987 as a result of the work of two sports coordinators of that time, Rob Doyle of Tenison College and myself. This first exchange saw about 40 students and four staff travel by train to Mt Gambier and compete in traditional sports. That exchange has now journeyed 34 years and continues to be one of the hallmark events in the life of the College. Whilst healthy competition in sports is important, it is the wonderful relationships that the two Colleges have established that most people remember and value. Students are billeted by host families. The experience of students from a regional country town mixing with students from a suburban city school is a unique feature of this exchange. Wonderful friendships are developed and much is shared in both contexts.

A wonderful mixed autumn day welcomed our annual Athon Day, beginning with perfect weather as the whole school gathered in the Gym for the official opening. Our Year 12 students provided great leadership by launching the day. The House Captains spoke about the charity their Houses were sponsoring in 2019. Packs of Love for St Vincent de Paul-Romero, Labs N Life-Chisholm, Catherine and Coolock Houses-Mitchell, CANTEEN-MacKillop, Hutt Street Centre-Kolbe, CentaCare-Faulkner, Fred’s Van-Lombard and St Vincent de Paul-Marcellin. There was tremendous energy and excitement around what they wanted to achieve and I congratulate all students for their fine efforts in raising funds for their charities. In the afternoon students entertained the school with their performances and activities followed by a whole school Macarena and Nutbush. It was a great community-building day. Congratulations to our Year 12 students for their wonderful leadership and the staff in assisting the students in making the 2019 Athon Day such a huge success. At the last tally we had reached an amazing total of over $15877 – we are very proud of everyone’s effort.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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