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Students design Indigenous sports uniforms for Reconciliation Round


To coincide with National Reconciliation Week, South Australian Catholic secondary school sports associations have celebrated a Reconciliation Round of sports fixtures, including netball and AFL football.

The round gives schools and students an opportunity to contribute to the national effort of making a significant change in mindset in Australia to achieve reconciliation.

Some schools marked the round by wearing Indigenous design sports uniforms custom-created by students to tell their own personal stories.

The Reconciliation Round was inspired by the 2022 National Reconciliation Week theme, “Be Brave. Make Change” which asks everyone to make change beginning with brave actions in their daily lives – where they live, work, play and socialise.

“The Reconciliation Round is so important because it raises awareness of the struggles that our indigenous brothers and sisters have had to endure over many years,” said Kath McGuigan, Chairperson, Executive Committee of the South Australian Catholic Secondary School Girls Sports Association (SACSSGSA).

“The Reconciliation Round is a sign of hope that the lives of our indigenous Australians will improve and that we will celebrate, honour and respect the immense contribution of one of the oldest civilizations in the world.”

Some schools recognised the round with Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies before the games, conducted by representatives from local Indigenous communities.

Some schools took it a step further and created meaningful indigenous sport uniforms, including St Mary’s College, Adelaide whose Open A1 and A2 netball teams wore custom-designed netball dresses on June 4 for their games against St Michael's and Mercedes Colleges.

St Mary’s students Heather Ferguson and Abby Cenko were inspired to design an indigenous netball uniform to start a conversation and support change in their school community, following an immersion trip last year where they deeply experienced the Adnyamathanha culture and learned about their history and story.

They connected with Aboriginal artist David Booth from the Warumugu people near Tenant Creek who also has links to the Yuggera people in Brisbane. 

David ran multiple sessions with the two senior netball teams teaching them about Indigenous stories and how art is one form of telling a story. The students then workshopped their own ‘St Mary's Netball Story’ using indigenous symbols, which David used as inspiration to create one large piece of artwork which then formed the Netball dress design.

“We are incredibly grateful for David's time, and we think the dress captures the values of the netball program, which we will be honoured to wear the uniform during the Indigenous Round,” said Amanda Shattock, Netball Coordinator, St Mary’s College.

The First XVIII football team from St Michael’s College, Henley Beach wore an Indigenous guernsey proudly designed by Year 12 student Halle Rigney for their Reconciliation Round games.

In describing the design, Halle said she wanted to include her own totem and Indigenous background, whilst also incorporating the College into the design.

“The Kungari (black swan) on the front of the guernsey symbolises my nation groups totem of the Ngarrindjeri peoples who’s rwi (land) are the lower rivers Murray, Lakes and Coorong. The groups surrounding the Kungari (black swan) symbolise my journey from Year 7 to Year 12 and symbolise a few boys in the First XVIII whose final year it is. The footprints surrounding the meeting groups are each boy’s journey to playing for the College team and their journey in life and paving the way for their future, and how the St Michael’s community and culture will stick with us forever.”

Rostrevor College’s First XVIII Indigenous guernsey was designed by former boarding student Marcus McGregor-Cassady. The circular dot formations throughout the piece represent each player and their families. All are connected by straight lines to represent the journey taken to get to Rostrevor College, while the central circle represents all the journeys coming together as one. The three yellow boomerangs represent the pillars of Spirituality, Academic and Co-curricular and the two hands symbolise the helping hands of Rostrevor’s ‘Men for Others’.

The Reconciliation Round will conclude this weekend, with the boy’s association holding the round across two weeks so all teams have their chance to celebrate the round at their home ground within the home and away draw.