I have just finalised plans to travel to Halls Creek during the upcoming holidays to visit the families of Irving Mosquito and Junior Bradshaw. I have been telling the boys for some time now that I would visit their community; with Reverend Rich’s help, and Ms Henry’s encouragement, we are planning to spend five days at Halls Creek at the end of the first week of the holidays.
As part of our preparation, Reverend Rich and I needed to be clear on our reason for the visit and the outcomes we would seek. We’ve spent some time with the boys and their host family, discussing our visit and formulating a plan. First and foremost, we would like to spend time with the boys’ families and strengthen our relationship with them. We are also very eager to connect with the broader community and learn about the culture that has existed continuously in this region for more than 40,000 years.
I remember similar feelings of awe and excitement before I travelled to Rwanda two years ago. In my mind, I was going to Rwanda to save their education system and guide their community towards prosperity and success. Yes, I was a little arrogant and over ambitious! What I learnt from that trip was that my purpose was to make connections, build relationships, develop trust and, ultimately, to learn from the local community; to absorb their culture, devote time and effort to relationships and, most importantly, to listen to their story.
And that will be my primary purpose this time: to listen, to connect and to develop trusting and ongoing relationships. I am really looking forward to learning more about Aboriginal culture, particularly from our two students. As I have said to the boys; when we visit their home, they will become the teachers and we will become the students.
As an Australian, I feel a little ashamed that I don’t know more about Aboriginal culture; I also feel that it is the responsibility of all Australians to rectify this over time. I remember travelling through Europe as a younger person and wishing that we had such depth of history in our young country. What I had failed to recognise, as many people still do, is that we have the oldest continuous culture in the world. It is something we should be proud of, want to learn more about and, ultimately, protect and preserve for the future.
I look forward to sharing stories and photos of our trip on my return, as well as news of meaningful new connections for our School, as we develop a strong, positive and lasting relationship with the people of the Halls Creek community.