From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

Anything but a yes vote to this question would do injury to our reputation among fair-minded people everywhere (on the subject of the 1967 Constitutional Referendum).

 Harold Holt, 26 May 1967

I want to promise you that this act of restitution which we perform today will not stand alone – your fight was not for yourselves alone and we are determined that Aboriginal Australians everywhere will be helped by it. Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people, and I put into your hands this piece of the earth itself as a sign that we restore them to you and your children forever.

 Gough Whitlam, 16 August 1975

The message should be that there is nothing to fear or to lose in the recognition of historical truth, or the extension of social justice, or the deepening of Australian social democracy to include Indigenous Australians.

Paul Keating, 10 December 1992

Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action.

Malcom Fraser, 26 May 2003

Thursday 3 June marked the final day of National Reconciliation Week, a week in which the Head Master spoke powerfully about the history of our nation and, in particular, the importance of the landmark High Court decision in Mabo v Queensland [1992] which overturned the doctrine of terra nullius. We acknowledged the traditional owners of the land in Reconciliation Round matches with St Aloysius’ College, and Alex Donavan | 11Mu, shared something of his own story at Quad Assembly. A precis of his remarks follows.

Good Morning Head Master, Staff and young men of the School.

My Name is Alex Donavan, I am in Year 11 and I am a proud Aboriginal Man.

Yaam darrui ngiina gaduwawgu – It’s good to meet you.

I would like to acknowledge the Wangal people of the Eora Nation who are the traditional custodians of this land on which we stand. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present, and I extend that respect to other indigenous people who are present here today.

My mother is from the Waka Waka nation which is north-west of Brisbane and my father is from the Gumbaynggirr nation near Coffs Harbour.

I would like to share something of my life story, and how challenging it has been for me over the past 17 years. When I was young, only 7 years old, I got taken away from my real parents. At first, I really didn’t know why I got taken away, but I now know the story and I understand why it happened.

I am lucky to have people in my life that have listened to my story and have understood where I have come from and the challenges I have faced. To be honest, at first it was really hard for me to trust people but the people I live with and other people who I have strong connection with, that have helped me throughout the last 10 years, and I am so grateful to have that support.

The history of our First Nations people is rich, and I am proud to be a member of this special community. This is our great nation and together we all need to work towards building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’, history, cultures, and future.

This year’s theme for Reconciliation Week, “More than a word”, is a call to action for all Australians to be brave and take impactful action, which is important for all Indigenous people.

National Reconciliation Week encourages all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and consider how we can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. 

In my personal journey, I am grateful for the bravery and the action taken by the people that I love that have given me the opportunity to be standing here before you today.  

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill


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