NAIDOC Week 2023

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ya pakana raytji karati pulingina milaythina-pakana-mana-tu…

This is a familiar welcome, and one that began our 2023 NAIDOC Week celebration: For Our Elders.

First Nations students and staff sat in a circle in front of the school, the ceremony was one of respect, honour, and tradition. First Nations staff applied pulawini (red ochre) to the cheeks of the students, decorating them with the earth that our Elders have walked on for thousands of generations. This occurred whilst Davina Cox, Year 11 student and rrala palawa luna (strong Tasmanian Aboriginal woman), sang in palawa kani.

The key aspect of NAIDOC is celebration, and so the students did, visible to all the College. They shared culture, spoke of their on-Country experience to tipina, praised their own Elders, and sat gathered together as one community. From kindergarten to staff, our First Nations College members were loud and proud.

Celebrations such as NAIDOC Week gatherings are important, and crucial to the enrichment of our College life. To have First Nations culture alive and well within these walls is a testament to the strength of our First Nations students, who got up and spoke despite any nerves. Beginning and ending with Davina’s singing, First Nations students and staff then moved to a morning tea with their parents, demonstrating the connectedness of this community within the College. Students had the opportunity to show the Meeting Place to their parents, sharing their work from the past two terms. A big thank you to the Murphy’s Café staff—Phil, Bronwyn, and Ros—for providing the food and drink, the lilly pilly cordial was delicious!

We appreciate all the staff involved who contributed to this year’s NAIDOC celebration, from applying ochre to operating the lights and speakers. We thank all the parents who attended and celebrated with us afterward, it is your care and guidance that allows these students to thrive within the College.

And finally, a massive nayri nina-tu (thank you) to our First Nations students. Your courage and resilience to stand in front of the school is admirable, and your pride in your culture is wonderful to see. Thank you for working with us and your community to create this beautiful ceremony.

wulika (goodbye),

The First Nations team



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St Mary's College is located on the traditional lands of the muwinina people of the South East Nation. We acknowledge and deeply respect the palawa people, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, and all Elders past and present. We are committed to learning alongside our students and community in this place, nipaluna, and support the continued sharing of knowledge and culture.