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Indigenous culture celebrated at St Augustine’s

Brothers Jake and Billy Cattell with Fr John Darbyshire and Uncle Alan Lena at
St Augustine’s NAIDOC Week celebrations

A TRADITIONAL smoking ceremony was one of many highlights at St Augustine’s School, Currumbin Waters, when the whole community came together to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

Elder Uncle Alan Lena conducted the smoking ceremony as the entire school community gathered in the carpark before making their way through the cleansing smoke into the school hall and a special liturgy led by Fr John Darbyshire.

Before the fire was lit, Uncle Alan explained to the community the purpose and meaning behind the smoking ceremony.

St Augustine’s Year 5 students then formed a guard of honour and played clapsticks as the community processed in to the hall through the smoke.

For many of the students, parents and staff present, it was their first experience of a traditional smoking ceremony.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held around Australia every July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme focused on “Songlines: The living narrative of our nation”.

Songlines are intricate maps of land, sea and country and describe travel and trade routes, the location of waterholes and the presence of food.

In many cases, Songlines on the earth are mirrored by sky Songlines, which allowed people to navigate vast distances around Australia and its waters.

St Augustine’s Assistant Principal for Religious Education Diane Anderson said Uncle Alan, who was born nearby, told the gathering the story of the Indigenous people around the local area.

“Our community is blessed to have his local knowledge,” she said.

“He was particularly impressed with the respect shown by the community towards indigenous culture and the effort the Year 5 students put into a traditional welcome dance, Gari Gynda Narmi, as well as the singing of the national anthem in both the Yugembeh and English languages.”

Diane said the special liturgy was a chance to come together to celebrate as a Minjungbal community.

She said the liturgy finished in what was a traditional manner following a smoking ceremony, with singing and dancing which had the entire community up on its feet.

“Two brothers, Jake and Billy Cattell, members of our small indigenous mob here at our school, played the didgeridoo as Uncle Alan entered the hall.

“This was a great effort considering the brothers are in just Years 1 and 2 respectively,” she said.


Brisbane Catholic Education Office

243 Gladstone Road, Dutton Park Q 4102

GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia

Phone: (07) 3033 7000

Fax: (07) 3844 5101