National Reconciliation Week 2023 at Walford

This week at Walford Anglican School for Girls we engaged with National Reconciliation Week and its 2023 theme ‘Be a Voice for Generations’. Students participated in a suite of impactful activities and experiences, reflecting on the rich history, culture, language and ongoing contributions of our First Nations peoples, especially the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains on whose land we live and learn.

As a school, we engage in Reconciliation through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Committee and related actions. The RAP Committee is a large group made up of 29 students and eight staff from across the school who meet regularly to plan and propel tangible action on Reconciliation. The Committee’s previous work includes the Junior School mural, and its current project is planning an Indigenous garden in collaboration with local Indigenous experts. An Acknowledgement of Country appears on both our email signature and our website, as well as at the beginning of meetings and events.

This week, the school community from ELC to Year 12 have been learning a Kaurna word each day, including words from our School motto, Pulthawilta (Courage) and Tiyati warra (Truth). Middle and Senior School students attended an interactive dance performance by contemporary dance collective Of Desert and Sea. Dr Cornelia Koch from the University of Adelaide’s Law School spoke to our Year 9-12 students around the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, Uluru Statement from the Heart, Makarrata and Australia’s Constitutional history. Principal Dr Deborah Netolicky enjoyed reading Back on Country, a book by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, to the Year 4s, and chatting with them about Reconciliation. Ngarrindjeri artist Amanda Westley worked with our ELC and Junior School students to share the colours of Ngarrindjeri Country and facilitate painting workshops creating Yarluwar (Ocean) as part of our Year 3 students’ signature relationship with the south coast of South Australia.

A special whole school assembly was organised by the RAP Committee, and included a Welcome to Country and truth telling by Aunty Elaine Magias. Aunty Elaine has strong ancestral links to Kaurna of the Adelaide Plains, Narangga from Yorke Peninsula and Ngadjuri from the mid north-east of South Australia. We are humbled and honoured that she generously shared with us the story of her mother who was a member of the Stolen Generation, revealing the importance of access to Elders and the importance of passing rich culture and stories down between generations. The ELC sang their daily ‘Nina Marni’ song, and student members of the RAP Committee spoke about the meaning and impact of Reconciliation, and the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

This week’s activities have been a powerful reminder of the importance of coming together as an inclusive, welcoming community, of being a voice for positive change, and also of making space for the voices, stories, and cultures of others. We have been reminded of our school values of Courage and Community, and our school motto Virtute et Veritate, Moral Courage and Truth.

Dr Deborah Netolicky