Girls Grammar’s celebration of Diversity Day spanned two days this year, with student forums, performances and activities held on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 August.
On Tuesday morning, Grammar girls added colourful chalk-art designs on pavers at the School in response to the question ‘What does your culture mean to you?’
To complement the annual Diversity Day Forum, ‘Listen, Learn and Act’, which focussed on issues faced by marginalised groups, we also celebrated the many different cultures our students bring to Girls Grammar. This was reflected by the 38 different country flags that were displayed above the Pool Lawn, and a special café menu with foods from the countries studied in the International Studies Faculty.
Lunchtime performances included the Gypsy Band, and a beautiful duet, Sweet Creature, sung by April Chudleigh (11R) and Lucia Dann (11B). Saee Sane (12O) then captured the audience’s attention with a classical North Indian Dance called Kathak. There are poems within the dance; firstly, showing the movements of a snake, and then, showing the sounds of birds and bells, called ghungrus, before ending on a footwork display.
Thank you to all performers, students who responded to the polls seeking interest and ideas for the day, and to the student committee who bought the events of the day to life.
These activities encouraged students to be open in sharing their culture with each other and it was wonderful to see the pride and excitement felt by all participants.
Mrs Lynne Mungomery
Director of Service
Diversity Day Forum
Racial inequality has been at the forefront of many people’s minds recently. The Black Lives Matter campaign has served to further increase awareness of systemic racial inequality, and highlight the many and varied issues marginalised groups face. In light of these contemporary events, this year’s annual Diversity Day Forum was themed ‘Listen, Learn, Act’ and we had many notable and insightful guest speakers. Our hope was that the forum would help girls learn what we as individuals and as a student body might be able to do to spread awareness and ‘act’.
This year’s forum was moderated by our Uralla student leaders, Sierra Reza (11H) and Kate Edmondston (12B). Our guest panellists included: Acting Director of Programs at the Healing Foundation, Ms Sarah Boyne; World Vision School and Youth Relationship Manager, Ms Zana Bowen; Senior Caseworker for the Immigrant Women’s Support Service, Ms Ingrid Green; Team Leader for the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health, Mr Randall Frazer; and Dr Mary Martin AM (1970), a BGGS alumna who has been inducted as a member of the Order of Australia (AM) and recently received an Honorary Doctorate for her significant contribution to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Throughout the forum, our speakers made many poignant and thought-provoking arguments as they shared their experiences and insight, particularly into the barriers that inhibit racial equality, and the actions that we as individuals and as a school community might do to make a difference. As our speakers addressed their experiences with intergenerational trauma and the continual discrimination they see in the workforce, some challenging topics were covered. Panellists lamented the trauma that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people struggle with, particularly the loss of culture and identity resulting from the Stolen Generation. From the impact of misinformation in the media and the role of collective fear and subtle unintentional racism in society, to the need for empathy and a willingness to listen, some extremely stimulating and essential topics were covered.
In terms of breaking down the barriers that lead to inequality, each panellist stressed the power of education, particularly about Australia’s history and the significance of the land, the need for people at a ‘grass-roots’ level to have self-determination and a voice in all levels of decision making, and the necessity of listening deeply without judgement. Our speakers had many suggestions of how we can help spread awareness throughout our community—importantly, education about the sacred sites that surround BGGS and Brisbane, a greater recognition of Dr Mary Martin and the extraordinary work she has done, inviting elders and members of the Aboriginal community to share their wisdom and culture, and taking up an observant, reflective and unbiased perspective. We are most grateful for the wisdom and depth of experience shared with us, and hope to implement the crucial messages shared with us throughout the School and broader community.
Ellyn Hill (12H)