NAIDOC 2016 at Parkville

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NAIDOC 2016 at Parkville20th of July 2016

“For what they did, and what we lost, we’re still kicking’ it. We’re still here. We’re bringing the culture back from the dust and ashes. We’re still here. Surviving.” – Student.

Together with the Archie Roach Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services, Secure Services, we would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the traditional owners of the land on which we stand on today.

On Tuesday 5th July, students, staff, Aboriginal Elders and guests celebrated NAIDOC 2016 in the school gymnasium at the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct. NAIDOC celebrations have become one of the most significant events on our Parkville College annual school calendar, where we come together to celebrate the rich history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

“A Koori student once disclosed to me that the inaugural NAIDOC celebration at Parkville, with the official opening of the Yannibal Garden, was one of the happiest days of her childhood. It is hard to accept that a day in custody may be one of our student’s happiest and proudest days in his or her young life. This however makes much more sense when you see such wonderful people come together with a common cause of celebration and pride led by our patron Archie Roach and our Elder and Cultural Advisor Jim Berg,” said Brendan Murray, Executive Principal, Parkville College.

This year’s NAIDOC theme was Songlines: The living narrative of our nation. “Songlines was the perfect theme for our 2016 NAIDOC celebration at Parkville. The cultural and spiritual connection between people and Country, and Country to people, is a critical component of education at Parkville College,” explained Brendan Murray.

“Songlines are a great way to communicate and stay connected with the high powers and the spirit world. I see Songlines as different people and languages coming together. I see Songlines as a map on which everyone can trace along.” – Student

“For what they did, and what we lost, we’re still kicking’ it. We’re still here. We’re bringing the culture back from the dust and ashes. We’re still here. Surviving.” – Student

“It’s about pride in my culture. Pride in my people.” – Student

“I reckon that my clan would have lots of Songlines. My nan still speaks the language. I think it’s beautiful how they share their stories and experiences through Songlines” – Student

The theme Songlines allowed many of our talented students to showcase their talents for storytelling through artwork, poetry and song. These talents are too impressive not to share. Here is a sample of four songs from our Parkville College compilation CD named, ‘Songs from Within’. To add these songs to your collection, click the link here:

                                                     ‘Songs from Within’ sample tracks

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The NAIDOC celebrations commenced with a memorable introduction by one of our proud students. With her face painted in Aboriginal colours, she explained her connection to the Yorta Yorta people and thanked Aboriginal Elders, senior education leaders, staff, teachers and fellow students for their attendance. She then welcomed highly regarded Elder of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, Aunty Joy Murphy, to the stage.

“Welcome to the land of the Wurundjeri people. The Wurundjeri are known as the Manna Gum people and it is our custom to invite people to share in this ceremony. These leaves are offered to you, take a leaf and you are welcome to everything from the tops of the trees to the roots of the earth. It means that we become linked symbolically and also that you join with us to honour the spirits of our ancestors who have nurtured this very land for many thousand of years. You are welcome to the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people,” Aunty Joy Murphy declared.

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Following Aunty Joy Murphy’s Welcome to Country, our patron and legendary Australian singer songwriter, Archie Roach, performed some of his greatest hits including; ‘We Won’t Cry’ where he was joined on stage by Uncle Jack Charles. The crowd sat in silence and listened to the inspiring and uplifting lyrics of a true hero.

“When Archie and most of his sisters and brothers were taken from their mother and father and placed first in a orphanage before being fostered out to white families they became part of the Stolen Generations. Put yourself in the place of a three or four-year old child torn from your mother’s arms and you can understand the trauma that cuts so deep. Took the Children Away is about trying to find your way back to the arms that first held you.” Jeff McMullen, Nobody Owns the Notes (2013). 

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Archie Roach then introduced A.B.Orignal, a partnership made up of rapper Adam Briggs and The Funkoars, Trials. As a member of the Yorta Yorta people, Briggs talked about his upbringing in Shepparton and the strength he has found from telling his story. He encouraged the young people detained in custody at the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct to find strength in their stories and in their heroes, like he found in his hero, Archie Roach.

It was a powerful experience to watch Briggs and Archie Roach come together to sing Briggs’ sequel, ‘The Children Came Back’,  to Archie’s iconic song, ‘Took the Children Away’ from his debut album Charcoal Lane, which pays homage to the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed from their families.

‘The Children Came Back’ namechecks famous people Adam Goodes, Cathy Freeman, Patty Mills, Gavin Wanganeen and Warren Mundine. “This is a history lesson, a monologue, a celebration and an education in one song”, explained Briggs.

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Briggs pounded his heart with his fist, with each powerful lyric:

“I’m Fitzroy where the stars be.
I’m Wanganeen in ’93.
I’m Mundine. I’m Cathy Freeman, that fire inside-a-me.
I’m Adam Goodes, and Adam should
be applauded when he stand up.
You can look to us when that time stop.
I’m Patty Mills with the last shot.”

“I’m Gurrumul, I’m Archie.
I’m everything that you ask me.
I’m everything that you can’t be.
I’m the dead hearts heartbeat.”

The crowd roared as Archie Roach sang:

“The children came back.
The children came back.
Back where their hearts grow strong.
Back where they all belong.
The children came back.”

The crowd clapped in unison and watched the moving collaboration between two Aboriginal heroes, as they performed across from six large posters of past Indigenous heroes; Margaret Tucker, William Cooper, Geraldine Briggs, Dr. Bruce McGuiness, William Barak and Hyllus Maris.

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“When we teach resilience or leadership we often default to international figures like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. There is no doubt they are important figures for our students to learn and know about. However, thanks to initiatives like the Victorian Koori Honour Roll, we are increasingly learning about the remarkable local figures, from the communities of our Indigenous students, who have performed equally extraordinary and inspiring acts,” said David Vadiveloo, Director Identity and Culture, Parkville College.

After the empowering performances by Archie Roach and Briggs, members of our student council thanked everyone for coming to the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct to celebrate NAIDOC 2016. The celebrations concluded with a delicious feed, catered by our students.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating NAIDOC 2016 at Parkville!

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