A school that really matters in a time when it couldn’t matter more
Reconciliation, inclusion and principled action lie at the heart of the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School. Matt Watson explains why it’s a school that really matters in a time when it couldn’t matter more.
Back in 2009, when Mick Dodson was named Australian of the Year, he addressed the National Press Club in Canberra. ‘Reconciling is an active pursuit,’ he said. ‘It’s about getting on with what’s needed and what we know to get the results we all want, and that’s a mixture of measures that target the body, the mind and the spirit. Reconciling is about always taking the next step.
‘It’s not grand policy half so much as attention to detail. And persistence – making sure it works.’
This is what we do.
Because reconciling is an active pursuit, the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School is a growing thing. It’s a partnership based on mutual respect, trust and two-way learning. It’s because it’s a partnership that it changes people’s lives; what we do is practical, it’s persistent and it influences the decisions young people make about their future.
For non-Aboriginal students, teachers and their families, Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School is an enlightening experience, an opportunity to learn about Australia’s Indigenous history and culture alongside, from and with members of our Aboriginal communities from remote Northern and Central Australia.
The Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School creates the conditions, the environment and the time for real relationships to form. There is time for genuine cross-cultural learning and the kind of understanding that is created when you share knowledge, empathy and humanity.
This country is waking up to this stuff again – waking up to the understanding that Reconciliation is about always taking the next step. We need policies but also practicality so we can always adapt to get the results we all want; we need talk but talk that enables action; it’s a long walk and we need to stick at it, step by step; and we need humble, listening and long-sighted leadership so we don’t lose our way.
The people today are demanding that history be told accurately, so that we can heal, so that we can focus together on what we know to be right. The people today are telling our leaders that they want to be reconciled not divided, they want inclusion not exclusion, they want principled action not political inertia. Reconciliation, inclusion and principled action lie at the heart of this school and this partnership – described in our name, ‘Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School: One community. Many cultures.’ It’s a school that really matters in a time when it couldn’t matter more.
Matt Watson is the Deputy Director of Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School and Deputy Head of Learning in Residence, Wesley’s boarding program in Melbourne.
This is an edited version of an article first published in Edition 74 of the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School newsletter. Subscribe to the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School newsletter here.