Myall Creek: we remember them

Radford staff and students attending the 2022 Myall Creek massacre commemoration
Radford staff and students attending the 2022 Myall Creek massacre commemoration

By Scott Corbett, Director of Service Learning

On the frosty morning of 10 June, a group of Year 10 students, along with Dylan Mordike, Ailsa Mackerras, Tracy Kelly and I, started their journey to Myall Creek to attend the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial.

The College has been attending the memorial for seven years, as a part of our commitment to stepping towards reconciliation. The memorial is a powerful event that remembers the 28 people who lost their lives on 10 June 1838 in a brutal massacre. The memorial is an event that brings healing and hope to all who attend, and it represents a commitment to the journey of reconciliation.

The Myall Creek massacre was a significant moment for Australia, as it resulted in the first executions of British subjects for massacring Aboriginal people. The Myall Creek massacre was neither the first nor last massacre of Aboriginal people in Australia, but it did set a judicial precedent, marking a significant moment of change.

The students from Radford joined with students from schools across Australia to participate in the memorial service. The group had the opportunity to hear Gomeroi elders and community leaders speak about the significance of this day. The students participated in an important symbolic element of the memorial where Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people came together. The symbol represents the forgiveness offered, the shame accepted, and the hope for a reconciled future.

Memorial plaque at Myall Creek
Memorial plaque at Myall Creek

The memorial event was born out of the commitment of local Bingara resident Len Payne to honouring the memory of those who died, and his conversations with Gomeroi elder Aunty Sue Blacklock. The event has continued to grow over the years and represents the power that a few conversations can have in creating significant change.

At the memorial, reconciliation was defined, not as a box to be ticked and forgotten about, but a journey that we must continually commit to walking. Our attendance at Myall Creek is a part of our commitment to achieving a fairer and more equitable society that honours the history of those who have been here for 60,000 years and those who came more recently.

The Year 10 students reflected that attending the memorial filled them with a complicated mix of shame and hope. They shared that by walking on the soil where such atrocious acts where committed, they were able to empathise with the pain and suffering that was brought on Aboriginal people in this country. They also found inspiration in seeing so many people acknowledging what has happened, and they are hopeful for their future that is many steps closer to reconciliation.

“I found the Myall Creek trip to be a wonderful experience. The chances to meet new people, to learn the rich history of the places that we travelled to, as well as to respectfully and remorsefully acknowledge the suffering that occurred on the land we were standing on were powerful opportunities. Also to celebrate the strong cultures that had owned the vast land around us that we had been standing on (long before anyone else had stood on it themselves) were all beautiful experiences that were made, just as with being included in a group of friendly peers and teachers whilst taking part in the trip. It was an honour to attend such a culturally and environmentally eye-opening experience.” (Micah Knight, Year 10).

A special mention to all the staff who made the trip possible by offering support in many different ways. The Service Learning team is continually grateful to all of the staff who make a contribution to the program – it would not run without that generosity.

We look forward to taking action here in Canberra to provide opportunities for us to step towards reconciliation in our region and further abroad.