Be Brave. Make Change.

Reconciliation Week and the Opening of the TSS Yarning Circle

 

Yesterday, during National Reconciliation week we hosted a special Assembly and outside ceremony where the TSS Yarning Circle was officially opened. The Banam Bowai students opened the Assembly with the acknowledgement of Koomeberri – Yugambeh – Bunjulung Country. TSS Old Boy and Indigenous education consultant Mr Ken Brown explained to students why yarning circles are a place of significance – a place to come together to connect and build a community. The TSS Yarning Circle was established to recognise the indigenous heritage of the region and the land upon which the school is built. The actual positioning of the circle is strategically engineered so significant places within the school are visual. We have already had TSS Cadets, Boarding, Science and English use this space to gather, educate and meet.

We heard an amazing rendition from Baden Kruger (Surman Year 11) singing the National anthem in both Yugambeh language and English, accompanied by traditional clapsticks. Many different parts of the school community were represented with several students dressed in specific attire for their activity.

At the Yarning Circle students, staff and special guests walked through the drum line and onto the yarning circle, gathering around to watch the lighting ceremony which was the first fire lit within the Yarning Circle.

Our Head of the Sharky Army Kade and School Captain Joe lead the students in a war cry.

This space will now allow every pocket of the school (as seen in the photos below) to share this space where respectful and equal voices are heard in lessons, meetings and occasions. In the last 24 hours Boarding, Science and English classes have used the TSS Yarning Circle.

Many of our community have worked together to bring the TSS Yarning Circle into existence, and we thank them for their tireless support.

  • Mrs Llew Mullins – Managing Director Yalari and  Mr Gary O’Brien – Student support Manager Yalari.
  • Councilor– Mrs Brooke Patterson.
  • Mrs Justine Dillon for representing the Dillon Family.
  • Mr Paul Paulson –Director of Indigenous Education at the Anglican Schools Commission.
  • Mr Nick Newman and the TSS Grounds team- they have done an amazing job on the space outside – their vision sourcing native plants, materials and location was inspiring.
  • Mrs Katherine Dewhurst, President of the Parents and Friends Association – the financial support from the P&F allowed for this project to begin and allowed a shared vision within the school.
  • TSS staff Mr Eardley, Mr Brown and Mr Dalton who lead our programs and have championed this shared culture and vision.

Mr Stephen Eardley spoke to the boys on Assembly, acknowledging the richness and diversity of our community and introducing our new meeting place at the centre of the School. Below is a reproduction of his speech.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge those that came before.

TSS’s past Indigenous Liaison Officers Mr Dylan De Vries and Mr Cameron Lestro (who joins us here today). Their contribution, energy and drive, over time, has created the strong foundation for where the Banam Bowai program sits today.

I honour the TSS Alumni, who journeyed through the school, those who did and others who may not have identified as First Nation’s Australians. Each has contributed to the richness and diversity of the TSS Community. We welcome all to renew connection with our current and future Banam Bowai students and the School.

Together, we as a community, have a new meeting place, which is as inclusive as the centre of the School – the Chapel. It is a place which invites belonging, story-telling, sharing. The symbolism of the Circle is embodied in Round Square philosophy – Kurt Hahn – the Founder of Round Square –  spoke often of an equality of voice.

Sitting in the round – there are no corners to hide in, no back of the room and therefore each voice can be heard, each face seen and each opinion listened to and respected. There is no differentiation between individuals and their contribution to shared wisdom.

Further it allows for us all to interact, learn and understand about ourselves and accept our differences, as strengths.

The Yarning Circle is located in our school environment between the Nerang River, the Theatre (our weekly meeting place) and another – the Chapel – and is surrounded by vegetation indigenous to the country, built from natural materials.

Our Banam Bowai students form a further leadership group within the school – such as the Year Group Leadership Teams ( YLT ). They have been actively engaged in designing and creating this space, designing a logo and a tie.

We can see a reflection of the RS Pillars in

  • Understanding
  • Democracy
  • Environment
  • Action / Adventure
  • Leadership
  • Service

The whole TSS Community is invited to respect this space and engage with it.

 

Mr Matt Dalton, TSS Old Boy and Indigenous Liasion Officer also spoke on Assembly. His speech is reproduced below.

 

Firstly, I’d like to pay my respects to the Indigenous people of this Land both past and present and extend my respects to those in attendance today.

The feeling of walking throughout this school hasn’t changed since I first started here as a student and no matter how many times, I get asked to speak, I feel both nervous and excited.

Being back here at TSS is an absolute honour while also being given the opportunity to be a staff member and give back to the school is even better feeling.

The most common thing I am asked everyday by students is what House was I in. I still remember the first time I walked through the McKinley doors after my interview to join the school with my mum and Mr Hawkins.

I was told by Mr Hawkins, who was himself a McKinley Old Boy, that I was heading into the best House in the school and that under the reigns of then Housemaster Mr Watt I’ll fit in just fine.

This week is National Reconciliation Week and it is a time where us as a community can connect to learn about everyone’s stories, culture and backgrounds. I am originally from Western NSW in the Brewarrina area, and I am a member of the Ngemba & Ualaroi people. Reconciliation Week has a theme and this year the theme is ‘Be Brave, Make Change.’

Being Brave is encouraging you to leave your comfort zone and to take that risk that will have a positive impact to your life whether you are trying a new sport, instrument or subject.

By starting to make changes and unlocking new abilities, we can strengthen the TSS community and also bring everyone closer together which is what Reconciliation is all about.

‘Be Brave, Make Change’ fits perfectly with the new TSS Yarning Circle that we are opening today. Our Indigenous boys, being brave and making a change within the school to open a welcoming area for our whole community to use and helping TSS become the first Anglican and GPS School in the country to have a Yarning Circle which is absolutely amazing and something we all should be proud of.

It is important to acknowledge an Old Boy of the school and an Elder of the community Uncle Graham Dillon who that has passed recently. Uncle Graham’s Totem is being displayed on the totem poles to pay respects to his input in the school’s community and the wider Gold Coast Region. We thank the Dillon family for being in attendance today.

I cannot praise our Indigenous Banam Bowie students enough for taking action with ideas and designs and acknowledging Mr Brown, Mr Eardley and Mr Lestro for their efforts in assisting with the project.

Further my gratitude to the teaching staff that have assisted me with my new role at TSS, in particular Mr Bos who has worked incredibly hard to make this day happen also. Thank you to the boys and staff for being here today, to our ground staff for doing an exceptional job preparing the area, and the special guests and also my family who ae also in attendance today.

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