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Dreaming of a reconciled Australia questions and activities

Staff  |  18 March 2021

Read A song yet to be heard – dreaming of a reconciled Australia in the autumn 2021 of Australian Catholics and explore the following questions and activities.

QUESTIONS

  • What does Ms Balcombe mean by saying ‘the community must reconcile to the truth of this country’?
  • Why do you think this inversion of the usual way of seeing things is desirable?
  • Why is Australia the only country among the 54 Commonwealth nations that does not have a treaty with its First Nations peoples?
  • Why is the Uluru Statement from the Heart important?

ACTIVITIES

1. Research – write essays or put together a media report on any of the following three topics.

  1. Explore the country on which you live: On which First Nations country is your home/school sited? What territory does it encompass? What is the history of the country? What is that country’s language? Is it still spoken? Are you able to learn to speak a sentence or two in that language?
  2. Investigate the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Who was involved in drawing it up, what are the main points? How were these derived? What was the governments’ (federal and state) responses? Do you agree with those responses? Why/why not?
  3. Explore treaties with indigenous peoples. What are treaties? What can you find out about treaties in other Commonwealth nations? How are those treaties lived out? Are there lessons for Australia in these treaties?

2. Understanding history: Consider the timeline of the relationship between First Nations peoples and settlers in Australia that's included with this article. Take up one part of that timeline, and research it in more depth. Explore some of the primary documents available at the time, offering perspectives from those involved. Consider what's missing from accounts - whose perspectives aren't included? Finish your research essay with a reflection on what can we learn from the past, to help us bring reconciliation today? 

3. Creative response: You have moved to another country/planet (perhaps you are exploring universes) but discover there are local people already there. You have to settle in this new place for the foreseeable future but you don’t know the customs, foods, language, dangers. The local inhabitants are wary but not overtly hostile. What do you need to know from the local peoples? How do you go about communicating? You might like to consider the situation from the perspective of the original inhabitants: What do you think about the newcomers? Have you dealt with visitors before? Have they been respectful or has there been troubles? What needs to happen for this situation to be made just?

4. Learn: The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria has developed a Creed for AustraliaSay the Creed as a class. Explore the different lines of the creed, and what they mean. What does the Creed evoke for you? How might you incorporate the Creed into your school's prayer life?

FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS

Read or summarise A song yet to be heard – dreaming of a reconciled Australia in the Autumn 2021 of Australian Catholics and talk with the students about the importance of caring for each other, sharing and being fair. Discuss with the students how the First Nations peoples have much to share regards their knowledge of the country. Discuss relationships with others in the context of caring for each other, being fair and open.

Activity – Song: Christians do their best

Ask if any of the children know the song ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’. Sing the song to remind the children of the melody.

Tell the children that they are going to learn some new words to go along with the melody that will help us remember how to be Christians.

Sing the following song once and have the children join in the second time.

Christians do their best to care,
Best to care, best to care,
Christians do their best to care,
Because they follow Jesus.

Christians do their best to be fair,
Best to be fair, best to be fair,
Christians do their best to be fair,
Because they follow Jesus. 

Christians do their best to share,
Best to share, best to share,
Christians do their best to share,
Because they follow Jesus.

Write the words to the new song on the board
Encourage the children to come up with other words that would fit the song for additional verses. Add actions to the words.

 

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