Across Australia we will recognise National Reconciliation Week from 27 May to 3 June with this year’s theme “More than a word. Reconciliation takes action”. It urges us towards braver and more impactful action, where we can all make a real difference as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation. It is a journey of reconciliation which at its heart is our deep and meaningful relationship between the Australian community and the Indigenous communities. At Cardijn we all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation and building these important relationships which include the importance of privileging and amplifying the voices of First Nations people for reconciliation and justice.

So in the week ahead, we will focus on learning more about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and explore how we can work towards more authentic actions which build on relationships and understanding. At Cardijn we will focus on developing a deeper understanding of key events in history such as the 1967 referendum, the High Court Mabo decision and the Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We will also focus on understanding more about the Stolen Generations and the impact on families today. The official National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and particularly the Stolen Generations was significant in recognising the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. In the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: “I move: That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.”

We share with our Indigenous community at Cardijn College and with our nation, that we are committed to reconciliation and action which is deeply connected to our relationship with one another. Founded with our deep care and shared belief of the importance of First Nation cultures and traditions and action which empowers the voice and actions of those who are seeking to make a difference and make this country a better place for all Australians.

As a community let us make the week of 27 May to 3 June 2021 a time where reconciliation is more than a word!

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. 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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