At Brisbane Girls Grammar School, we are committed to advocating for reconciliation in the classroom, around the School, and with the community.
As part of this, we acknowledge Country at the start of assemblies, events, and meetings as a sign of respect for First Nations people, and to recognise their continuing cultures and the contribution they make to Australian society. It is a small gesture to acknowledge the Indigenous members of our School community, and the Turrbal, Jagera and Kabi Kabi Peoples, who are the traditional custodians of the lands on which our three campuses stand.
Acknowledging Country is something which has been done for thousands of years, and we encourage our students to reflect on what it means to be continuing this ancient diplomatic tradition, while also understanding that the practice has been reintroduced in Australia as a response to the Mabo decision, and acceptance that First Nations Peoples, cultures and connection to land predate European colonisation. For this reason, an Acknowledgment of Country is more than a token, it is a statement that we are an inclusive and principled School community, which celebrates belonging, and values the diverse histories, cultures, languages, ancestry, laws and stories, that are part of our shared national identity.
We use a capital ‘C’ when we talk about Country in this sense, because for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the word means more than a place on a map. As Yawuru man, Professor Mick Dodson says, ‘For us, Country is a word for all the values, places, resources, stories and cultural obligations associated with that area and its features. It describes the entirety of our ancestral domains.’
An Acknowledgement of Country can be delivered by an Indigenous or non-Indigenous person. A Welcome to Country is also an ancient diplomatic protocol, but can only be delivered by a person who is a custodian of the land where people are gathered, and who has the authority to welcome members of other communities onto that Country. At times we are privileged to have a Turrbal, Jagera or Kabi Kabi Elder welcome our students, staff and parents to Country, and this is a significant event with deep meaning. It connects us as individuals and as a community to place, and many people find it a deeply moving and spiritual experience. To be welcomed to someone’s home, and to be invited to share not only their resources, but also the stories, history, culture, and language of the area, is a significant gesture of reconciliation and connection by an Indigenous person. We can honour and reciprocate that connection by acknowledging Country at assemblies, events, meetings and classes, to remind ourselves that the road to reconciliation continues, and our actions will define its future.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Brisbane Girls Grammar School acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which our campuses stand, the Turrbal, Jagera and Kabi Kabi Peoples, and all Indigenous people in our School community. We honour and respect their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise that these lands have always been places of teaching and learning. We are grateful for thousands of generations of care for Country and seek to walk in solidarity with the First Peoples of our nation for reconciliation, justice and healing.