Parents representative council meeting an ‘historic occasion’

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ATSI parent committee chair Selina Walker performs the welcome to country for members of the Council of Catholic School Parents NSW/ACT on 9 August. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The latest meeting for the Council of Catholic School Parents NSW/ACT (CCSP) was an especially “moving and historic occasion” says executive director Linda McNeil.

The combined meeting with the council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) parent committee was held to coincide with World Indigenous Peoples Day on 9 August.

It began with a smoking and welcome to country ceremonies held in Hyde Park with members wearing t-shirts bearing the motto for NAIDOC week, ‘Because of her, we can’ and symbols of women who had inspired and encouraged them.

Selina Walker with the chair of CCSP, Narelle Burke. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

While the Council meets four times each year, it only joins with the ATSI committee once annually.

“There was a beautiful feeling to the day,” says Ms McNeil.

Topics covered on the day included Federal funding of Catholic schools, student wellbeing initiatives, and the educational needs of Indigenous children.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people continue to be among Australia’s most disadvantaged groups,” said committee chair Selina Walker.

Darlene Murdoch (left) with a photo of her grandmother, Alice, and
Sally Ryan with a portrait of herself with her mother, Julie Masters. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Having a voice and being part of state and national level decision-making processes is critical for ATSI people so that we can affect policy and really work to address the issues that are unique to our culture and that directly affect our people.”

Ms Walker, a Ngunnawal woman who last year was named the Barnardos ACT Mother of the Year, does not have biological children but is raising her four godchildren including three young boys.

“Like all parents, I and other ATSI parents and carers just want the best for our children – we want the best education, the best opportunities and the best for their health and welfare,” she said.