St Michael’s values and respects the diversity and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and traditions. As part of its Strategic Direction: Towards 2030, the School has developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that outlines its vision, goals and actions to build a culture that acknowledges, affirms and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The School’s vision is for students to learn From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, With their peers, staff and the wider community, For the enduring purpose and benefits of a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.
To mark the start of the new academic year, the School held a special ceremony that recognised the Indigenous heritage of the land and the new opportunities for learning and growth. The ceremony was held on the School grounds, which belong to the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the land. The School community paid their respects to the Boon Wurrung Elders, past, present and emerging, and learned about their culture and history from William Pepper, the Community Relations Manager of the Boon Wurrung Land and Sea Council.
The ceremony also included a Smoking Ceremony, which is an ancient ritual that involves burning native plants to create smoke. The smoke is believed to have cleansing and healing properties, as well as to protect from negative influences. The ceremony symbolises a new beginning, a personal ‘reset’, and the diversity and harmony of all people. The Prep and Year 7 students, along with Year 12 leaders and RAP Committee members, participated in the ceremony, as they are at important stages of their learning journey at the School.
The ceremony was a reflection of the School’s commitment to reconciliation, which is embedded in its curriculum, pedagogy and culture. The School aims to increase the understanding, value and active recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge and rights among its staff, students and families, through respectful cultural learning, experiences and connections.
The ceremony was a memorable and inspiring way to start the year, and to celebrate Indigenous culture and new beginnings with the School community. The School hopes to continue to foster a learning ecosystem that nourishes, sustains and grows its efforts and contributions towards reconciliation, guided by its core values of Dignity, Respect, Care and Compassion.