To mark Reconciliation Week 2022, St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School Annandale has renewed its commitment to its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The school’s Family Educator and RAP founding committee member Fiona McGrath said St Brendan’s is the first Catholic junior school in Sydney to develop and publish its own RAP.

The RAP, which was officially launched in 2016, is a formal statement of commitment to Reconciliation in and around the school and in the surrounding community.

A physical acknowledgement is proudly displayed in the school’s entrance foyer in the form of a painting by former Casimir College Marrickville student, Elijah Charet. A backdrop artwork for the school’s acknowledgement, by Year 6 student Bronte Roff, is also displayed in all classrooms and common areas of the school.

“Doing a RAP is a type of formation, which helps us to further appreciate and understand cultural history and diversity within the school, parish and community” –  Fiona McGrath

Recognised by Reconciliation Australia, St Brendan’s RAP is also listed with Narragunnawali which supports all schools and early learning services in Australia to develop environments that foster a high level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.

St Brendan's Annandale students painted these song stones as part of Reconciliation

Pictured are stones that were given to St Brendan’s after going through Ceremony. Students painted them with their own design. Known as ‘song stones’ they have been placed in the school’s Indigenous Garden and painted pots, so they can become part of Mother Earth once again.

“Reconciliation Australia and Nurragunnawali have educational platforms which can assist in countless ways but the most valuable help (in our understanding) comes from spending time and learning from Elders, like Deborah Lennis, who are within the immediate community,” Ms McGrath said.

D’harawal woman and local elder Aunty Deborah Lennis said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to travel the Reconciliation path with students, parents and especially the staff of St Brendan’s for the past seven years.”

Ms McGrath gave special mention to parent Cisca Pena, who helped initiate the discussion in mid-2015.

About the RAP

St Brendan’s RAP has four phases: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Actions in three categories – Relationship, Respect and Opportunities – take place in the classrooms, around the school and in the community.

“Our RAP will continue to grow and develop across the school campus and will in the future encompass the parish and early learning groups,” Joanne Bright, principal of St Brendan’s, said.

“The inclusion, development and continuation of our RAP is crucial for the community to thrive and survive.”

Commitment to culture

Dotted through the school are references to Indigenous culture, such as a garden filled with pots designed and painted by First Nations students and other talented artists.

Indigenous and Torres Strait Island flags are raised alongside the Australian flag at assemblies and gatherings and have so since the program’s inception.

“This is an exciting time in our shared history, for all involved and future generations,” Ms Bright said.

“Reconciliation is everyone’s business and it can’t be achieved alone” – Aunty Deborah, Inner West Council’s Aboriginal Programs Supervisor

Vision for Reconciliation

St Brendan’s vision for reconciliation is for all students to understand and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures at a local and national level.

St Brendan’s recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and acknowledges past injustices that continue to give rise to present inequalities and disadvantage.

St Brendan’s also recognises that reconciliation is a spiritual process which involves justice, recognition and healing.

It is about helping all Australians to move forward with a better understanding of the past and how the past affects the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians today.