Former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s 1992 “Redfern speech” laid out a challenge to extend opportunity and care, dignity and hope to the indigenous people of Australia. Nearly 30 years on that challenge remains. We have not yet succeeded in finding justice, wellbeing and a clear path for reconciliation and full inclusion of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people in the life of the nation.
Keating called for building blocks of change. The story of Gawura school might well be one of the better examples of what he meant.
Born out of a visit to South Africa by then Headmaster of St Andrews Cathedral School, Phillip Heath, Gawura is a school for indigenous children within a larger school in the heart of Sydney. It’s focus on indigenous culture, language and community provides a home for inner-city indigenous kids to thrive in an environment where they feel at home.
What started as a risky venture full of obstacles and challenge has proven to be a haven for learning and the flourishing of indigenous students. And the school itself has become a gift to the wider school community. This is a good news story worth hearing.