“Our country belongs to all of us to share and become connected. We all have the right to know, to learn, and to spread across Australia. Our work represents the knowledge that is embedded in our country, that is where our strength and wisdom have come from, and we must understand that cultural education is the main vessel to change… we have to all walk the same path.”
– Mungul Lacey, Culture College Director –
Gululu, the Yolngu term for welcome.
The immersion experience to East Arnhem land in the first week of the school holidays was more than just an adventure to an exotic destination; it was a journey that challenged preconceptions and prejudices, forged friendships, kindness and determination.
The 26 Year 11 students and 6 staff were encouraged to give, grow and lead. We gave with our hands but also with our heart. We grew stronger through physical resilience, but also by developing patience, tolerance and generosity.
The first evening we engaged in a healing ceremony and secret women’s business. The next day we were enlightened by the Yolnu fight for land rights and reconciliation. Culture College Director – Djapirri Mununggirrit spoke to us around the fire saying “Your heart is like a good soil, and when you gather information and plant in the good soil of your heart, now we can see results. It’s more gathering through your studies, your education, then putting it in your soil no matter who you are.”
This journey was about wading into a world that has been locked away for decades and listening to stories that are seldom heard. As future voters and leaders of this nation, we hope the participants will carry the messages from remote Aboriginal Australia far and wide. It is an unequivocal message that reminds us that life can be brought to places that have been dead for too long, that we can bring hope to the many by bringing a little love to the few who need it most, and that Indigenous and non-Indigenous hands can come together to work towards a common goal.
Please see a reflection from the students below.
Author: Helen Thomas, Director of Mission, Loreto Kirribilli
For the first time since 2019, 26 Year 11 students and 6 teachers packed their things and travelled to East Arnhem Land to partake in Loreto Kirribilli’s famous Verity Immersion.
For ten years, Loreto Kirribilli students have travelled to East Arnhem Land with the central goal of learning, immersing themselves and engaging with this significant First Nations community. Prior to our departure, we had heard so much of the ongoing and life-changing impact that this immersion has had on students in previous years, and we can confidently say that this year’s Immersion did the exact same for us.
Spending a week completely immersed and welcomed into such a strong Aboriginal community highlighted to us how important it is for Australia to embrace this beautiful part of our national identity. Being able to see firsthand how the concepts of kinship, connection to land and language interact and shape the lives of these people, was a privilege.
While in Gukula and Bukudal, we witnessed a culture which truly embraces the beauty of generosity. Throughout our stay, we were educated on the ways of life in Aboriginal communities. We were encouraged to ask questions, to have conversations, to build relationships, allowing for us all to leave East Arnhem Land with a much richer understanding of Aboriginal culture.
Perhaps what struck us the most, was how unbelievably welcomed we felt upon entering their land. We were immediately accepted as a part of the Bukudal family, welcomed into their kinship system, irrespective of who we were, and how long we had known them. Our time on Immersion would not have been the same without the Yolngu people’s dedication to sharing their culture with us. We have been entrusted by the community to share what we have learnt on Immersion with our Loreto Kirribilli community. We hope to further encourage engagement in important events such as NAIDOC week and National Reconciliation Week.
All who participated in this year’s Immersion can attest that this is an amazing opportunity that has the capacity to change your life, as it did for all of us. We hope that students in years to come will embrace this unique opportunity and continue to foster Loreto Kirrbilli’s strong relationship with the Yolngu people of East Arnhem Land.
Author: Coco and Sophie, Year 11 Verity Immersion 2022