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College snapshots

More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.

Friends of Yiramalay (from left): Mojdeh Pleasants, Stephanie Longmuir, Tanika McHenry, Banjo McIntosh, Abby Gore-Birch Gault, Tonheya McCormack and Georgie Raik-Allen (OW1987)

Richard Young, patron of the Monash Reconciliation Group, was the guest speaker at this year’s Reconciliation Breakfast at Glen Waverley. He introduced the audience to his family, their connection to the Gunnai, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara tribes and his Songline. He spoke of the importance for his family to return to their country and the connections they have, and emphasised the need to ‘let kids play in the dirt – their land’.

Richard sees reconciliation as ‘black and white coming together’. Reminding everyone that ‘every story matters’, he encouraged us all to tell our story. He said that ‘reconciliation has moved from theory to practice,’ and that ‘we are moving in the right direction,’ urging the younger generation to continue reconciliation. ‘We have made some progress, but we have a long way to go’.

The breakfast concluded with a beautiful example of two-way learning as Year 12 Prefect Antonio Vaitohi interviewed Year 11 student Banjo MacIntosh. The warmth of their friendship was evident throughout their conversation and demonstrated openness to listening and learning from each other. Banjo is the ‘last in the line of McIntosh brothers’ to attend Wesley, the first McIntosh being amongst the first to live in Wesley’s new Learning in Residence facility in 2016. Originally from NSW, Banjo now lives in Broome. As a new student, he attended his Induction program at the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School along with students visiting from Wesley Melbourne. He had heard about Induction from his brothers, and ‘it was great that I finally got to experience it,’ he said. ‘It was the best three weeks of my life!’

What Banjo most enjoys about living in Melbourne are the people (‘there are so many different cultures here’) and the shopping. At Wesley, he’s benefited from the opportunities to try new things, the outstanding music program and living about a minute from the Sports Centre, opportunities he doesn’t find at home. Banjo said that by ‘showing an interest in us and where we’re from’ and asking questions, the students at Wesley are already ‘taking great action’.

The Reconciliation Breakfast raised funds for the Be Deadly at Somers program which was founded by one of Richard’s son’s, Isaac Young. This camp is for young Indigenous Australian students to develop their cultural identity, confidence and leadership at the Lord Somers Camp.

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