On a recent sunny autumn’s morning, our college gathered to celebrate our inaugural Makarrata Assembly. This special event called us together as a Mercy community to confront the truths of our history with honesty, and to celebrate the remarkable work of contemporary First Nations Australians.
Makarrata is a Yolngu word that means “coming together after a struggle”. The call for a national Makarrata Commission is a central theme of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and as a Mercy community we join in this call for truth telling and healing.
By gathering together in the spirit of Makarrata, we denounce the ongoing legacy of racism that is threaded throughout our nation’s history, and stand in solidarity with our First Nations sisters and brothers and their calls for justice and true reconciliation.
In our assembly we heard from some remarkable guest speakers, and also listened to our own students perform both spoken word and musical pieces.
We had the special honour of having Peter Moser join us to offer a Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony to begin our assembly. Peter is a proud Taungurung man, whose heritage on the landscape our school is built upon spans back over countless generations.
Our keynote speaker for the occasion was Lena Charles from Clothing the Gaps - a Victorian Aboriginal owned and led foundation. Clothing the Gaps design and produce fresh and dynamic fashion items that celebrate Aboriginal people and culture. Their products are used as a platform to campaign, educate and elevate Aboriginal peoples’ voices and causes, with all profits from their fashion label used to support important health initiatives.
Lena is a proud Yorta Yorta/Gunai Kurnai woman, and her presentation to us offered a powerful example of what can be achieved with creativity, imagination and a desire for justice. We take great heart in knowing that compassionate and courageous people are working for justice each day in our state.
Our assembly was also an occasion to highlight some of the key moments in time along Australia's path to reconciliation. To this end, our own college voice choir performed spoken word arrangements of the recent Yoo-rrook Justice Statement and the 1992 Redfern Address. Although the words they presented to us are from two time periods separated by almost 30 years, both performances offered the same calling towards truth-telling and healing. This was the central message at the core of our Makarrata Assembly. As people of Mercy, we are committed to walking the journey of truth, healing and justice, in solidarity with our First Nations sisters and brothers. As our assembly drew to a close, we encouraged all students to continue the conversation with their teachers, classmates, friends, family, teammates and all in their community.