“In Indigenous systems, knowing comes from understanding how we connect to all the life around us and how all the life around us connects to each other.” Ambelin Kwaymullina
During the final week of Term 3, a group of nineteen students from Years 9, 10 and 11 participated in our Immersion to Lake Mungo. They spent time walking and sleeping on Paakantji and Mutthi Mutthi Country. Our students were privileged to sit with, to learn from, and to listen to Traditional Owners teach us their ways, stories, perspectives and aspects of their Culture. After a busy term, this experience enabled our students to pause, to live more mindfully On Country, and to watch and listen to the living culture surrounding us. The opportunity to visit Lake Mungo, and to walk and spend time sitting on this Sacred Land with Aunty Vicki Clark OAM was a highlight for us all. Aunty Vicki’s grandmother, Alice Kelly was an Aboriginal activist who asserted Aboriginal ownership of the remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady. She also advocated for their return to their final resting places after archaeologists removed their remains upon discovery. Learning from Aunty Vicki about the fight for recognition, both historically and still today was inspiring and empowering for our students. This experience served as an affirmation for our students on their commitment to Reconciliation.
After a long hiatus since our last Immersion program in 2019, it was once again a joy and privilege to accompany students on this experience and to watch their hearts and minds expand.
Reflecting on their experience:
"The Immersion challenged my thinking in a way that made me understand and appreciate that sometimes I do not and will not have the answers. I have had my eyes opened to the importance of listening to others with an open heart. I now understand more than ever how important it is to acknowledge all voices as unique and different from one another." Amy
"When Aunty Vicki was speaking to us, she told us how she does not like being labelled or called 'Indigenous' because it has connotations of flora and fauna, and she does not want to be thought of as a plant. So, now when I see or hear people calling Aboriginal people 'Indigenous', I try to correct them or let them know that term may be offensive to some Aboriginal people." Alannah
"When I first got back to Melbourne from the Lake Mungo Immersion, I was lost for words when trying to explain what I experienced to my family. The experience was so personal and spiritual that it was hard to find those words. I have become more grateful for the people around me and more observant of the little things in life. I also found that my phone and immaterial things are no longer as important to me, and I have become more appreciative of what I have presently." Ella
"A memorable moment for me was the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony we received upon our arrival at Culpra Milli Homeland. Our hosts Uncle Dick, Uncle Barry and Sofia led us in this moving experience, and I felt so welcomed into their community as a visitor standing on their Country." Amy
In Term 4 at Siena, the Justice focus for our College community turns towards supporting the community at St Mary’s House of Welcome. St Mary’s is a not for profit centre in Fitzroy providing basic essential services to people who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, severe mental health issues, as well as those members of society who are isolated and socially marginalised.
The service was opened in 1960 by the Daughters of Charity and serves approximately two hundred people on a daily basis. In addition to food, St Mary’s House of Welcome provides showers to Melbournians sleeping rough, laundry facilities, and referral services to health and other welfare services. St Mary’s House of Welcome aspires to treat each individual with respect, to foster relationships, and be a beacon of hopefulness in a challenging and lonely world.
This year, St Mary’s have indicated that the greatest need they have this Christmas is food donation. St Mary’s will use the food items collected to create food hampers for families in need. Based on the requests for food, each year level has been allocated pantry staples to donate. All students are asked to contribute to the collection of groceries which will be coordinated by House group teachers. Donations will be collected by St Mary’s in Week 9. Donations need to be finalised by Week 8. Thank you in anticipation for your generosity.
Donations per year level:
Friday Night School, an independent, non-denominational educational charity running out of St Ignatius Parish Hall in Richmond, was founded twenty-six years ago to help students from non-English speaking backgrounds, particularly new migrant and refugee students. Siena College has been fortunate to be involved in this program over the past two years, with students in Years 10 to 12 tutoring students in the program. Our students and volunteering Siena staff all describe this opportunity as rewarding, enriching and enjoyable.
Friday Night School will be hosting an end of year celebration for the children and all participating schools have been invited to contribute to the celebrations. This year, we will provide the children with a book to read over the summer holiday period.
We are asking for donations of new (or very lightly loved) children's books and young adult fiction (suitable for five to fifteen years old). All donations will be gladly received and can be handed to Head of Justice Education, Mrs Ilott.