Each school delivered unique artworks and shared the story behind their creation, including St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar, which represented and connected each element of the theme with the natural land.
“The 2019 NAIDOC theme has been represented through the imagery of three young seedlings,” said the school’s artist statement. “Their roots are grounded and nourished by thick, red, earth similar to the landscape of central Australia and symbolic of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“Nutrients surround the roots supporting their growth, representing the voices of past ancestors and generations passing on their precious knowledge, skills, stories and practices. Without this, there can be no growth … Let’s work together.”
The canvases were displayed at the 2019 NSW Aboriginal Catholic Education Conference held at the Crowne Plaza, Hunter Valley, September 11-12.
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle with Catholic Schools NSW hosted the conference, with more than 500 delegates in attendance.
Acting director of schools Gerard Mowbray set the agenda for the conference with his opening remarks about providing the best learning outcomes for indigenous students in Catholic schools.
“We must create a culture of high expectations and learning growth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The learning gap is still readily evident and confronts us to unlock solutions that will be relentlessly pursued,” he said. “We are committed to building whole school awareness of closing-the-gap initiatives. We continue to champion reconciliation.”
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle now has 59 schools with 19,600 students, including 1301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. While the state average indigenous population is 3.3 per cent, in our Diocese the average population in our schools is 6.2 per cent. Schools’ employees include more than 50 identified Aboriginal personnel, as well as 95 staff members specifically working in the area of Aboriginal education.