Schools throughout Newcastle celebrate NAIDOC

The 2017 NAIDOC theme - Our Languages Matter - aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites through story and song.

Schools across the diocese celebrated NAIDOC last week.

On Tuesday 27 June, St Therese’s Primary School, New Lambton, welcomed special guests Dr Raymond Kelly, Uncle Ron Gordon and Louise Campbell to its NAIDOC celebration and the official opening of the new totem garden.

Dr Kelly spoke of the changes that have happened and the changes that need to happen, explaining to the children that as an offering of reconciliation that he would connect with them through song.

Gifts from each nation were presented to the gathering, the meaning behind each symbol was explained by Year 6 students. An Archie Roach song was used to explain to students the stolen generation and the hope for the future.

Dr Kelly explained the symbols further: “Fire is a symbol of communication, people gather around fires to hear stories and share. The message stick is used as a travelling message between communities, as a way to invite people to come together and the song lines connect communities.”

2016 Year 6 students presented the totem poles they completed last year to Principal Duilio Rufo as a final gift to the St Therese’s school community. Each pole was illustrated with a story of the Australian environment from an Aboriginal art perspective.

Aboriginal Education Worker, Cheryl Roberts said, “St Therese’s school community is ‘walking the talk’, embedding the history of Australia in our curriculum, embracing our true identity. We are partnering with indigenous Australians for change, recognition and celebration.”

At Holy Spirit Primary School, Kurri Kurri, a magnificent foyer display was erected during the final week of term featuring students’ creative poems. All students were encouraged to enter the NAIDOC poetry writing competition and explore the theme, ‘we are one’.

“The competition theme enabled students to reflect on the lives of our Indigenous people and how we can ensure that there is greater justice for all Aboriginal people. Students wrote a variety of poems expressing their empathy and desire to make the world a better place,” said principal Paul O’Heir.

The school community at St Columba’s Primary School, Adamstown, greeted very talented Indigenous performer, Sean Choolburra, who entertained the staff and students with an inimitable blend of traditional dance, digeridoo, stories, knowledge and humour.

“It was a captivating experience for all staff and students from Kinder through to Year 6 and one we will definitely remember. We hope Sean returns next year to perform again,” said Religious Education Co-ordinator, Olivia Campbell.

The community of St Pius X Primary School, Windale, showed its support to the local Indigenous community by assisting at the Lake Macquarie Fair during NAIDOC Week and holding a school liturgy.

“It was an opportunity for children to give back to the Windale community, celebrate reconciliation and respect for all,” said principal Peter Bowen.


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Amanda Skehan Image
Amanda Skehan

Amanda Skehan was the Marketing Team Leader for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular contributor to Aurora and

Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.