The students at Oxley Vale Public School kicked NAIDOC Week celebrations off on Monday with a special assembly that paid homage to the women in all our lives, and honoured Indigenous achievement.
While Naidoc week officially starts on July 8 the students took the opportunity to celebrate their achievements before the school holidays start, and explore this year’s theme of ‘Because of her, we can’.
Assistant principal Genienne Ellis said that NAIDOC week is one of the most important dates on the calendar for Oxley Vale, where 38 per cent of students are indigenous.
“It is a really good week where we take a look int cultural awareness and understanding, while also celebrating our achievements,” she said.
“The day was really well attended and we had some great special guests.”
In true tradition Uncle Neville Sampson opened the assembly with a Welcome to Country, while the Department of Education’s Aboriginal student liaison officer Julie Swan was the guest speaker.
Ms Swan spoke about the importance of getting the best education possible, and reflected on the tough choices her grandmother made in order to educate her children, and in doing so “paved the way for generations to come.”
Principal Luke Norman echoed those sentiments in his address, and spoke about how he uses the strong women in his life to guide him.
“We all have to make decisions and choices, and some of those decisions will not always please everyone , but that is ok,” he said.
“I always ask myself if my decisions would please my mother, or my grandmother, because it doesn’t matter what is happening, those women can always guide you.”
Following the teachers it was the students turn, with the school choirs singing some renditions of their favourite tunes, including the primary choir singing We Are Australian in traditional language.
The Gomeroi Dance Company’s Brad Flanders troupe of dancers then took centre stage to perform three traditional indigenous dances that had the crowd clapping.
The service concluded with the Greg O’Leary Awards being handed out to two students in each class, before local families cut the cake and raised the flag.
“The awards are given out for students who give a go at everything in school, and were handed out by Greg O’Leary’s family,” Ms Ellis said.
“It was another really good day to start the week.”
On Thursday the students will come top school dressed in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands flagged, and will be sampling traditional food prepared by Cafe Nouvelle, including kangaroo meatballs and bush citrus pork.