Sitting in the sunshine in the Elizabeth Jameson RLC Building demanding attention are technicolour boots. No passerby could possibly walk past without stopping to read the plaque which reads:
QGSSSA Basketball/Football/Touch Football
Friday 26 May 2023
St Aidan’s AGS v Brisbane Girls Grammar School
These beautifully decorated playing shoes were an elegant gift from St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School to Girls Grammar to commemorate, what has become known as, the Reconciliation Round of the Queensland Girls Secondary Schools Sports Association (QGSSSA).
The concept was the brainchild of two St Aidan’s students, Rhani and Zara Hagan, and staff member, Lily Bougoure, in 2021. QGSSSA Executive Officer, Amy Anderton stated: ‘The girls started by inviting their Round 9 opposition school to participate in a reconciliation ceremony across the three autumn sports. From there, I asked the girls if I could take their idea and propose a QGSSSA Reconciliation Round to be considered by the QGSSSA Sporting Committee’ (Anderton, email 9/6/23).
The QGSSSA Sporting Committee was highly supportive of this concept and subsequently proposed that every year, Round 9 would become the Reconciliation Round in Autumn fixtures as it coincided with Australia’s National Reconciliation Week. With this formal acknowledgement came the concept of a centralised venue for the presentation of artwork, a lapel pin in 2023 at Whites Hill for Touch Football, and the decision for a centralised venue in a different Autumn sport for each year in Round 9.
At this year’s presentation, Anderton opened the Touch Football evening commenting: ‘The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023, Be a Voice for Generations, encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives—where we live, work, socialise, and where we play!
‘As an organisation, QGSSSA honours the work of generations past who fought for equity, justice, and opportunity in Australia. This organisation, of which Girls Grammar was a foundation member, is committed to working collectively to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation for the girls of today here today, and for the generations to come.
‘QGSSSA seeks to contribute to building a better nation and a more united Australia that respects and takes pride in 65 000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, stories, and achievements. We urge everyone here today to use your power, your words, and your actions to create a better, more just Australia for us all’ (Anderton, email 9/6/23).
The impact of this round and the receiving of gifts had a powerful impact on both the Girls Grammar Head Touch coach, Mr Craig Morrow, and co-captain, Violet Miall (12E).
Mr Morrow stated: ‘On Friday 26 May 2023, I experienced my first full Reconciliation Round at the home of Touch Football, Whites Hill. This was an opportunity to have six of the QGSSSA schools all competing at the one venue, whilst paying respect to our First Nations People. The initial Welcome to Country and presentation of portraits to each school was unlike anything I had seen before as a coach and was a fitting way to bring together everyone as one. This was also a unique experience for the players, as they were able to watch other sides play, see the different styles undertaken but also build friendships with other players that they may never have had the opportunity to do. This is one day in the Touch calendar that I now look forward to the most’ (Morrow, email 8/10/23).
Violet Miall (12E) remembered: ‘The 2023 Reconciliation Round was an experience that greatly impacted me as one of the 2023 Touch Captains. Bringing together all QGSSSA teams at Whites Hill Reserve was a concept that demonstrated the significance of unity as well as building a better nation. Furthermore, playing at a single venue highlighted the competition’s togetherness and the shared commitment to fostering understanding and respect among all Australians.’
‘Over the last three years, Indigenous students at St Aidan’s have taken an initiative to gift their opposition some artwork, to celebrate and value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, and cultures. Personally, receiving a painted touch football boot from St Aidan’s served as an important reminder that reconciliation is not just a word, but a series of meaningful actions’ (Miall, email 9/10/23).
While the official ceremony and presentation of reconciliation artwork by Australian traditional and contemporary artist, Leah Cummins of Bunya Design, commissioned by QGSSSA, was held at Whites Hill, Girls Grammar Football Captains at Rangakarra, and Basketball Captains at Centenary State High School, received their boots from St Aidan’s captains.
Football captains, Georgina Gothard (12W) and Eloise Rawlinson (12B), commented: ‘The painted boot we received from St Aidan’s Football Captains was not only a beautiful piece of artwork painted by their own students, but it was also a way of promoting cohesion between our schools. We were honoured to be presented with it and, in turn, present it to our Principal, Ms Euler’ (Gothard and Rawlinson, email 2/10/23).
Basketball captains, Matilda Fennon (12W) and Tiena Packard (12G), were equally appreciative of the gesture and recalled: ‘As the 2023 Basketball Captains, we felt honoured to present the painted basketball shoe to Principal, Ms Euler at our whole-School assembly. It was a great way to signify the importance of this round within our Autumn Fixtures calendar and to give an insight into how we commemorated the round in our last games for the season. It was great for the shoe to be on display and for all students to have the opportunity to be a part of this occasion. We hope to see this continued in the years to come’ (Fennon and Packard, email 9/10/23).
The artwork, commissioned by QGSSSA, includes a framed statement of the connectedness of QGSSSA schools, the association’s beginnings, and an artistic representation of each school. This will stand as an evocative symbol of the Reconciliation Round that Autumn Fixtures, Round 9, has become. The artwork, along with attractive lapel pins, are tangible reminders of reconciliation and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
A Reconciliation Round has become a potent part of many sporting codes and the specially-designed jerseys are often sought-after items. The artwork of the QGSSSA Reconciliation Round has motivated schools to incorporate First Nations designs into their playing uniforms. In 2024, BGGS is looking to add to this ‘canvas’, having commissioned artist, Joanne Currie, to craft a flexible and creative design that will lend itself to being reproduced in multiple Girls Grammar mediums.
In a week where an Indigenous Voice has been most topical, these special boots are a timely reminder to acknowledge the crucial role education and sport play in raising awareness, promoting empathy, and championing equality on the sporting field, within the QGSSSA schools, and in the broader Australian community.
Mrs Pauline Harvey-Short (1971)
Manager, School History and Culture
(Acknowledging Mrs Raechelle Finch, Ms Joanne Nisbett and Ms Amy Penberthy)
Anderton, A. email 9 July 2023
Fennon, M. and Packard, T. email 9 October 2023
Finch, R. email 12 and 13 June, 2, 13 October 2023
Gothard, G. and Rawlinson, E. email 2 October 2023
Ingram, A. email 10 October 2023
Miall, V. email 9 October 2023
Morrow, C. email 8 October 2023
Nisbett, J. email 13 June, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17 October 2023
Penberthy, A. email 8 June, 3, 12, 17 October 2023