Supporting Reconciliation with Sea of Hands

Carmel College

Students check out the Sea of Hands planted at Carmel College in support of National Reconciliation Week​

A ‘SEA of hands’ swamped the grounds at Carmel College, Thornlands, as students demonstrated their support for National Reconciliation Week.

More than 600 beautifully crafted cardboard hands were individually designed and ‘planted’ by students in celebration of the annual event that builds upon the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about their shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how they can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates remain the same each year - 27 May to 3 June - which commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

For more than 20 years the Sea of Hands has been a symbol that has engaged Australians with Reconciliation.

The first Sea of Hands was held in 1997, when hands in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, were installed in front of Parliament House in what was then the largest public art installation in Australia. 

Each hand carried a signature from the Citizen's Statement.

College A&TSI support teacher Terri Edwards said after students and staff learnt about the original installation of hands planted at Parliament House in Canberra 21 years ago, they were eager to show solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during this significant week, the theme of which this year was ‘Grounded in Truth – Walk Together with Courage’.

Terri said students were given time at the start of the week to learn about National Reconciliation Week and to then work on an individual design for a hand.

She said the finished works were then ‘planted’ in a prominent position near the entrance to the college.

“The result was an amazing display of creativity mixed with sincere and heartfelt messages of support and commitment to reconciliation.

“The installation gathered immediate and ongoing attention from all who passed by, with students, staff and visitors to the college captivated by the sea of hands, which proved a wonderful conversation starter on this very important issue,” she said.

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