Reconciliation At St Virgil's College

We acknowledge the muwinina people, the Traditional Custodians who have walked upon and cared for this land upon which we learn, work and play. 

As a Catholic learning community in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice we are inspired and nurtured by the wisdoms, spiritualities and experiences of First Nations People and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to working for reconciliation, justice, truth and healing. Our calling to reconciliation is shaped by the Touchstones for Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition, the Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy and EREA’s Head, Heart, Hands and Feet Framework for Educating for Justice and Peace. Our actions are expressed through authentic responses to the Touchstones for EREA Education – Gospel Spirituality, Liberating Education, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity. Our commitment also reflects our authentic expression of the Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic education in Tasmania.

St Virgil’s College has a meaningful, genuine and valued partnership with Tasmanian Aboriginal communities. We understand that true reconciliation can only be possible by first acknowledging the harm that has been done to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples since British colonisation and recognising the intergenerational trauma that has resulted and continues to exist for many of our families. For this, we are truly sorry. We continue to engage with Elders and Community members to ensure that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students feel safe, respected, acknowledged and empowered to learn more about their identity and culture and have many opportunities to deepen existing understandings and connections to Aboriginal history and their local communities.  

Tasmania’s history since colonisation has, in common with the rest of Australia, been a terrible and brutal one for First Nation’s peoples. History and school curriculum have until recent years, been written from the perspective of the coloniser which has further marginalised Aboriginal people. It is significant to note that the current generation of students at St Virgil’s now have the opportunity to learn the true history of lutriwita trowunna Tasmania. 

In partnering with Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali online platform we have been able to provide practical ways to introduce meaningful reconciliation initiatives into classrooms, activities around the school and throughout our College community. A critical component of this has been in providing educators with access to professional learning and curriculum resources to support the implementation of the ACARA Cross Curricular Priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives into all curriculum areas and at all year levels from Grade 3 to 10. A truth telling curriculum is key to making Reconciliation a foundation for all that we do at St Virgil’s College and for us it is inspired by the example of Jesus and the work of Blessed Edmund Rice who famously said, “Have courage, the good seed will grow up in the children's hearts later on”.  The seed has certainly been sown at St Virgil’s and has been nurtured by the Country upon which our campuses sit, in particular the ancient property at Austins Ferry, nestled on the banks of the Derwent River, which has sustained life for Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. 

We understand the importance of land to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and it has been a deliberate choice to meaningfully engage with our surroundings throughout our reconciliation journey. Accompanied by members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community we continue to seek ways to properly care for Country and to provide all our staff and students with opportunities to help rehabilitate the Austins Ferry Campus while bringing our learning beyond the walls of a classroom. Initiatives such as lowamakana, the Nine Nations Path, the Children’s Peace Garden, the Cool Fire Burning programme and the Interpretive Cultural Walk all help to include our staff students and families in a shared commitment to reconciliation. 

 Our 2021-2024 Reconciliation Action Plan reflects the identity and aspirations of our whole College community in making reconciliation at St Virgil’s a living, authentic and powerful means of achieving justice and peace in our collective future. We commend the 2021-2024 Reconciliation Action Plan to our community and commit the College to walking hand in hand on a journey with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples towards a truly just and reconciled Australia. 

St Virgil's Reconciliation Action Plan - Stvirgils Reconciliation Action Plan

tunapri makuminya Project 

Throughout 2020 Jamie Graham-Blair worked as an independent consultant with St Virgil’s College to create and present the tunapri makuminya Project. Previously he had worked regularly at the College as a cultural educator both on his own and with Tasmanian Aboriginal organisation Nita Education. In this role he was able to provide Aboriginal perspectives in classroom learning, accompany school excursions to sites of cultural and historical significance and lead professional learnings for staff from both campuses.

Jamie and other Tasmanian Aboriginal community members also taught students and staff about cultural burning and the ancient practice of fire farming. From there the idea of a biocultural survey grew, one in which we hoped to identify every plant species on the campus which was of cultural significance to Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The finished project included conservation and regeneration suggestions and proposals to expand cultural practice and cultural learning opportunities within the surrounding landscape.

The tunapri makuminya Project has the capacity to significantly strengthen and deepen learning programs both in the classroom and beyond. It provides opportunities to meaningfully engage with the Aboriginal peoples of lutruwita/trowunna/Tasmania and First Nation’s Communities from other regions of Australia. Most of all the tunapri makuminya Project has created an increasing awareness amongst everyone involved of the importance of Caring for Country but also the importance of allowing ourselves to be Cared for by Country.