St Francis Xavier’s College held their annual NAIDOC Assembly, where they heard from guest speaker, Mr Greg Welsh. Mr Welsh is a former student of the College and currently Director of Winya Furniture.
Mr Welsh was also the recipient of the United Nations 2018 SDG Pioneer for Economic Empowerment of Indigenous People.
Through his company, Mr Welsh has demonstrated how a small business in Australia can improve the lives of Indigenous people while advancing labour, environmental and social justice standards far beyond Australia.
As a Director of Winya Indigenous Furniture, Mr Welsh is not only successfully running a company that makes office furniture for export across the world, the company also helps curb poverty and the chronic social and economic disadvantages faced by Indigenous people in remote communities, by employing workers to make furniture components.
Winya also reaches out to Indigenous people in the prison systems, to train inmates in furniture manufacturing trades. This collaboration aims to curb the cycle of poverty, unemployment and incarceration.
Through Winya’s products, office workers are reminded each day, as they sit on or walk past the furniture, of this business’ reconciliation goals.
Mr Welsh spoke to the 2019 NAIDOC theme and highlighted to the audience that reconciliation starts with Voice – our responsibility to listen to Indigenous opinions; Treaty – our willingness to accept history and its impact on our Indigenous brothers; and Trust – the need for mutual acceptance that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people need to have to ensure that “we work together for a shared future”.
The history of our First peoples is the history of all of us, of all Australia, and we need to own it. Hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides, “then we can move forward together.”
College Principal, Brother Robert Sutton, addressed the assembly and also reflected upon this year’s theme. Brother Robert reminded the students of the importance of acknowledging past history and working together to ensure that Australians have a shared appreciation of the past. With true reconciliation and genuine healing of both sides, we can all share in the future of our nation.
Year 7 students from St Pius X celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with a variety of activities and hearing from guest speaker, Ashley Williams.
Ashley Williams, CEO of Biraban Local Aboriginal Land Council and Archaeologist, spoke to the students about the importance of working hard, taking pride in what you do and learning your own story. She shared the importance of everyone becoming caretakers of the land we all call home and learning of its rich Indigenous history.
Students were then guided by the school’s Indigenous students from Year 8, 9 and 10 and teachers in a number of activities.
They enjoyed an art activity which will form an installation in the school’s library garden, as well as some traditional weaving.
Taking a break from everyday lessons to connect with the story of our land was enthusiastically received by St Pius’ Year 7 students.