Celebrating National Reconciliation Week, 3KND were invited by the Merri-Bek City Council and Itiki Sporting Club of Glenroy to conduct an outside broadcast for the very significant Ballerrt Mooroop (Strong Spirit) Day.
The site of Ballerrt Mooroop has 2.4 hectares which sits on Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Country and has not only cultural significance, but also educational importance for all First Nations on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country. It has significant native vegetation, including the Spirit Tree or Uncle Tom’s Tree as it is known, Be-al (River Red Gum), and many other established native trees, supporting bird life and other ecologies.
From 1954 – 1992 this was the site of the old Glenroy High School. In 1995 the late Wurundjeri Elder Margaret Gardiner opened the Koorie Open Door Education (KODE) school with the first Wominjeka ceremony.
From 2009 it was renamed Ballerrt Mooroop College - Koorie Pathways School until its closure in 2011. When the college was closed in 2012 a community campaign was launched to return the site to the Aboriginal community for use by the whole community. In 2017 the campaign succeeded in keeping the site public and leased it to the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Corporation temporarily until future use is decided.
The day was well attended by over 200 people, which included many First Nations community members, past students, Gary Murray, Nathan Lovett-Murray, the Mayor of Merri-bek, Cr Angelica Panopoulos, Ms. Kathleen Matthews-Ward, the Member for Broadmeadows, Victorian Legislative Assembly in the Victorian Parliament, past teachers, the principle of KODE as well as many allies from the local community.
The MC was Kim Kruger, who did a wonderful job of keeping proceedings running along smoothly.
Uncle Andrew Gardiner performed the Welcome to Country, Daniel Ross conducted the Smoking Ceremony with the Tarnuk, instead of in the fire pit. The Djirri Djirri Dancers performed a welcome dance, and Mandy Nicholson explained the importance of having a site were we as First Nations people do not have to ask permission to conduct a Smoking Ceremony.
The Mayor of Merri-Bek, Cr Angelica Panopoulos spoke of the support that her council have for the site of Ballerrt Mooroop being given back to First Nations people.
The Candidate for Broadmeadows, Ms. Kathleen Matthews-Ward, the Member for Broadmeadows, Victorian Legislative Assembly in the Victorian Parliament, gave an impassioned speech that spoke of the respect that she has for the original Ballerrt Mooroop community members who fought to keep the school open, some of which were, Aunty Margaret Gardiner, who is in the dreamtime now, Gary Murray, Uncle Tom Slater, and Mariella Teuira, who is the President of Itiki Sporting Club of Glenroy, but also a past student of Ballerrt Mooroop.
Uncle Gary Murray had a yarn with Erica on air about the history of the site, the KODE school, what he hopes for the future of the site, and he also bought in some great photos from the time that the school was operating.
There is a sacred space that is right in front Uncle Tom’s Tree that has a beautifully carved totem and benches in the shape of a shield that were designed and built by former students of Ballerrt Mooroop College.
The day was filled with many activities that kept the crowd entertained, such as Boomerang throwing, Indigenous Games, basketball, face painting, singers, stalls that had important information, and the crowd were well fed from a sausage sizzle run by Itiki Sporting Club. Many people, adults and children alike also planted native shrubs and plants to regenerate the area. The council garden staff did a great job in helping everyone.
The 3KND team of Erica, Grant, Nadia, Wendy and Peter want to thank the organisers of the day, Merri-bek City Council and Itiki Sporting Club of Glenroy for the opportunity to attend this significant event and bring it to our 3KND listeners all around Victoria, Australia, and the world.
3KND Keeping you connected.