Spirit of Catholic Education Award bursary used in the Spirit of Reconciliation

This year, for the first time, a cohort of Year 9 students at St Augustine’s College in Springfield travelled to Moreton Island for their year level immersion camp. They used the opportunity to connect with Matthew Burns, a Quandamooka man and well-known educator, who spent time with the students sharing First Nation’s culture and Island life.

Importantly, this meant that every Year 9 student, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, learned about traditional life on Minjerribah (Stradbroke) and Moorgumpin (Moreton) Islands.

Students also learned more about the connection to country and sustainable use of the natural environment.  Matt shared stories of first contact between the Quandamooka and Europeans and the devastation that followed as the islands were taken over by outsiders. The students were introduced to the songs and dance of the Quandamooka (after learning about how this passing on of culture was affected by European laws) and had fun learning how to throw boomerangs.

The visit was made possible with the assistance of the bursary of $500 received by Spirit of Catholic Education Award (Aunty Joan Hendricks Reconciliation Award) recipient and teacher at St Augustine’s College, Rosemarie Dwyer, who used the funds she received to secure this experience for her Year 9 students and hopes to be able to continue the school’s relationship with Matt into the future.

It is also fitting that Matt has worked with Aunty Joan Hendriks, Aboriginal elder of the Ngugi people, whom the Spirit of Catholic Education Award honours, on Stradbroke Island for many years, developing improved understanding of Indigenous cultural heritage in Catholic school communities.

“Developing our relationship with Matthew is an integral part of our goal to deepen all St Augustine’s students’ knowledge and understanding of First Nation’s culture with the aim of building young citizens able to truly embrace the values of Reconciliation within their daily lives” Rosemarie said.

“Thank you once again for the opportunity to establish this camp program with our students and build on it into the future. This will become an integral part of a whole College approach to deepening of knowledge, awareness and respect for First Nation’s people”.

The Spirit of Catholic Education Awards, including the Aunty Joan Hendriks Spirit of Catholic Education Reconciliation Award are presented annually as part of Queensland Catholic Education Week celebrations. The awards aim to recognise those who are making an outstanding contribution within the Catholic education community and are supported by the RACQ Bank, the Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund and the Australian Catholic University, the sponsors of Catholic Education Week.