BGS Indigenous Partnerships and Programs

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Partnerships & Programs 1

Adrian Lingwoodock ’16, Harlin House Captain 2

Executive Summary Brisbane Grammar School (BGS) has made a commitment to improve the educational ambitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The School community is highly engaged with Indigenous matters which are vital to a culturally rich environment. We aim to contribute to closing the social, economic and health gap between First Australian peoples and the broader Australian community and aspire to build a better future.

Relationships with Indigenous people and communities underpin the School’s vision for reconciliation. These relationships improve understanding, enabling us to embrace diversity and ensure an inclusive school community. True understanding can only emerge in a culture of respect, generosity and humility. Respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their culture and histories, help us to learn and to explore similarities and differences.

Mr Noel Pearson Speech Day 2014 “Let me pay tribute to Brisbane Grammar School for opening its doors of opportunity to disadvantaged Australians – particularly to our Indigenous Australians. I’ve been observing the progress of schools in Brisbane – and particularly in your school – in the way you have developed the program of introducing Indigenous kids to this school and growing the number of disadvantaged kids who take advantage of this premium opportunity you have.

It’s important for an advantaged people such as ourselves to understand that not all of the doors of opportunity open from the outside. If those on the inside don’t take the effort and don’t take the step of opening the doors, those doors often never open.”

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners, and elders past and present, of all lands on which Brisbane Grammar School operates.

Mr Noel Pearson Speech Day 2014 3


2018 Indigenous boarders 4

Indigenous Partnerships Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Our journey towards reconciliation began in 2004 with a partnership with the Cape York Leaders Program. Through Reconciliation Australia, the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program provides a framework for organisations to realise their vision and to document their commitment to reconciliation. The plan provides a blueprint which will enable the School to be more purposeful and connected when attempting to Close the Gap. A Closing the Gap committee was established to commit to the development of the School’s RAP. An RAP committee, which includes representation from staff and the BGS community, meets regularly and works closely with the Closing the Gap committee to enhance the Indigenous agenda at BGS.

The School is guided by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation Act (1991) and the United Nations on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The School believes that, as agents for change, reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians through action, will make a difference. Our vision is to foster an environment of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and knowledge. We aim to address the legacy of the past by developing reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples and their communities. Our actions enhance engagement with Indigenous Australians, their communities and lands. Opportunities to empower future leaders will follow as an inclusive environment that embraces Indigenous communities is reinforced.

Cover page and below: Brisbane Grammar School acknowledges artwork by Dylan Minniecon ’16. Dylan is a descendant of the Kuku-yalanji tribe.


Indigenous dance following 2016 National Sorry Day assembly 6

Over the years, the spirit of reconciliation and the raising of our community’s awareness and understanding of Indigenous culture, and our

response to specific need, has ranged from fundraising through to exchanges and service projects.

Lady Cilento Indigenous Education Unit A partnership between the School and the Lady Cilento Indigenous Education Unit has been established. Staff from the unit visit BGS regularly and in 2018 boys from BGS will visit Lady Cilento Hospital to assist Indigenous patients in the hospital.

The Closing the Gap committee currently focus their fundraising efforts on this unit. Previously the boys’ efforts were directed in support of Indigenous literacy.

Turrbal Story – Artwork on display in the main reception at Brisbane Grammar School 7

Mr David Carroll (Deputy Headmaster – Students) with visiting Hope Vale State School student 8

Brisbane Grammar School has partnered with the Cape York Leaders Program (CYLP) for the past 14 years. In 2007, the Year 8 Community Service Committee established a connection with Djarragun College, a school for Indigenous children 20km south of Cairns, fundraising for facilities and collecting second-hand sports gear. Students from both schools participated in exchanges. In 2009 they undertook a year-long major project, the design and construction of a shade house on the Djarragun campus, as a part of Brisbane Grammar School’s Public Purpose Program.

Hope Vale State School In 2017, a BGS staff member visited Hope Vale State School, a primary school approximately 370km north of Cairns, one of the schools that participate in the CYLP.

Since then a group of Year 6 students from Hope Vale State School visited BGS in the latter part of 2017. The students were guided through the School by two BGS students who had previously attended Hope Vale State School. These visits contributed towards the development of another strong partnership, between BGS and Hope Vale State School. The students particularly enjoyed the Indigenous artwork on display at the School and the Turrbal Garden, which was a gift to the School from the 2013 seniors. As part of this reciprocity, BGS Year 9 and 10 Drama productions in 2017 raised money to support the music and drama program at Hope Vale State School. During the students’ visit to BGS they displayed their talents in the drama space and in the music rooms. Visits to and by Hope Vale State School will continue in the future.

Michael Dingo ’21 with visiting Hope Vale State School students 9

Zeke Leaupepe Perkins ’18

Indigenous Programs Student Support Diversity and access have long featured in Brisbane Grammar School’s charter. The School has developed an appreciation for the need to ensure that high levels of support, cultural awareness and sensitivity are at the forefront of this endeavour, and must be offered not only to the Indigenous boys but also to their families. For each of our Indigenous students, those currently enrolled and those who have graduated, the School’s commitment — teaching, mentoring and support — to that student extends over a number of years. This in itself is an indication of BGS’ commitment to Indigenous education. The partnership that has developed between the two Support Officers from the CYLP and BGS’ on site Indigenous Liaison Officer has greatly assisted in the support our students can draw upon. BGS values this program and knows the importance of supporting students and connecting with parents and community leaders.


All Indigenous Old Boys (alumni) are invited to contribute to the induction program and act as mentors for new boarders as they enter Harlin House. Fostering a reciprocal relationship between Old Boys and new students provides role models for the younger boys, reinforces the importance and value of BGS boarding for graduates and provides a forum where Old Boys can keep in touch with each other. Boys are well supported within Harlin House (boarding) and in the day school. The School’s interest in our Indigenous students is ongoing and continues after the boys complete school. The School has also developed close links with Kings College at The University of Queensland and The John Flynn College at James Cook University; both colleges are well placed to accept Indigenous students from BGS.

Michael Dingo ’21 with Hope Vale State School student and Mr Wilson Bennet, Student Support Officer, Cape York Leaders Program

Harlin House – BGS Boarding With almost 10 per cent of BGS’ boarding residents now Indigenous students, together with boys from across Australia and overseas, diversity is one of the key strengths of the House. A close knit community with outstanding support programs across academic and activities enrichment, leadership and life skills, Brisbane Grammar School offers an exemplary boarding education. The School has developed a formal Indigenous induction program. At the beginning of each year the School observes custom with a ‘Welcome to Country’ provided to Indigenous students by local elders. We are grateful to CYLP staff for their assistance in facilitating this event through introductions to senior members of the local Indigenous community. From 2018, our boys will also engage in a leadership program facilitated by Indigenous elders at the Pepperina Hill, the BGS Outdoor Education facility. At BGS we believe we have a responsibility, in partnership with the boys’ communities, to celebrate and develop their Indigenous heritage while also educating the boys for life after school.


Stephen Baronio ’20, Closing the Gap assembly 12

Closing the Gap committee

National Sorry Day and NAIDOC Week

In 2007, a group of Year 8 boys established a Closing the Gap committee. By the time they graduated in 2011 they had created a powerful legacy. They raised our consciousness as to what the reconciliation journey might look like and how we, as a community, might play a practical, hands-on role and act as advocates within the School and broader society.

Each year BGS acknowledges National Sorry Day with an Indigenous student’s address at School assembly. This is followed by a traditional dance which is performed by Indigenous students at the School. Our Indigenous boys champion and share the reconciliation journey with our community. They enrich our community immeasurably just as we hope to provide them with opportunities that will enrich their lives and in turn the lives of their families and those in their own communities.

In 2018, a record 30 boys participated in this committee with Prefect leadership at an all-time high. This year our Closing the Gap committee will connect with a similar group at Brisbane Girls Grammar School (BGGS) so the two schools can work together.

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) celebrations honour the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week is acknowledged each year by the School at a formal assembly where students are addressed by a member of the Closing the Gap committee and a staff member.

Joining the Royal Australian Navy is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Boarding at BGS prepared me for a challenging program. I hope my story encourages more young Indigenous men to embark on one of the most amazing schooling experiences anyone could dream of. Isaiah Cummings ’13 – Royal Australian Navy 13

Kade Wallace ’18 and Michael Dingo ’21 14

BGS students’ Indigenous immersion

Indigenous Immersion Each year students in Years 11 and 12 are afforded the opportunity to attend an Indigenous immersion in Cape York. This is an incredible opportunity for the students and staff who attend. Their understanding of Indigenous issues

All members of the touring group were humbled by the depth of their cultural awakening, as well as having a renewed appreciation of people’s connection to the earth. This once-in-a-lifetime experience fits with the School’s public purpose ambitions, to practice meaningful reconciliation. Mr Mark Brusasco (Deputy Headmaster – Extracurricular) in reference to the inaugural Indigenous immersion in 2012.

and culture is enriched immeasurably as a result. Participating in this program provides an excellent introduction for student membership in the Closing the Gap committee.

The Indigenous Immersion Program is a wonderful learning opportunity for BGS staff and students. Our goal is to develop a transformative experience to drive the reconciliation agenda back at BGS. Mr David Carroll (Deputy Headmaster – Students).


Challenges and Opportunities Brisbane Grammar School offers a rigorous academic curriculum along with a diverse range of extracurricular activities where boys will find their niche, whether in the classroom, on the sporting field or within the many cultural and public purpose pursuits available. The key to Indigenous boys embracing the many opportunities and meeting any challenges at the School will be the support and understanding they are offered across all areas of school life and the close connections established with their families.

Dylan Minniecon ’16 16

As a leading educational institution in Australia, BGS has an important leadership role to play in reconciliation efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to study and work at the School and for communities and organisations to partner with BGS will further the reconciliation agenda.

Zeke Leaupepe Perkins ’18 17

BGS students’ Indigenous immersion

Philanthropy Fenwick Bursary – Supporting Future Generations at BGS Following a meeting with BGS Headmaster Anthony Micallef in New York in late 2014, Old Boy Simon Fenwick was impressed by the School’s vision for greater diversity and open access.

to establish the Fenwick Bursary to support wellrounded Indigenous or regional boys who are keen to learn, but lack the financial means to attend the School.

The 1987 BGS graduate, a founding partner of International Value Advisers in New York, said he wanted to provide the same opportunities he benefited from to those less financially able.

The Fenwick Bursary will cover expenses for one boy’s tuition and boarding at the School in perpetuity.

“I finally realised how privileged my background was, including my schooling at BGS, and how it might be time to give something back. I am the third generation of my family to attend BGS, yet I have daughters, so there will be no fourth. Seeing the opportunities my girls have been given, reminded me of those provided to me,” Mr Fenwick said. His decision to give back came in the form of a transformative donation of $1.34 million to BGS,


The funds will support a student from the time he commences school at BGS until he graduates. Upon the graduation of the inaugural Fenwick Bursary recipient, the School will identify and select a new student to benefit from the Fenwick Bursary. Mr Micallef acknowledged that this gift will go a long way towards furthering the School’s vision to grow the Bursary Fund in support of future generations.

Lee Leaupepe, Peter Huxley ’69, Zeke Leaupepe Perkins ’18, Lesley Huxley AM and Ben Leaupepe

The bursary has changed my life, it has changed my family’s life. Coming to BGS gives me the greatest head start in life. Zeke Leaupepe Perkins ’18’

Heath-Huxley Bursary As Lesley Huxley AM listened to Indigenous leader and lawyer Noel Pearson deliver a BGS Speech Day address, she was inspired to join with her brother Nicholas Heath and mother Betty Heath to offer a student the opportunity for an education at Brisbane Grammar School. They decided to fund a bursary at BGS, covering school and boarding fees, for one boy who could not otherwise have enrolled at the School. The family have derived great satisfaction as they have seen how their gift of education is making an impact and difference to that student’s future. Lesley’s grandfather received a scholarship to attend BGS in the early 1900s. Her two sons also benefited from a BGS education. The bursary donation is this family’s way of giving back.

BGS was founded upon the goodwill of public subscribers, who believed that a broad liberal education would provide the best all-round education for boys. That same philosophy exists today. Bursary donations provide access to a world of opportunities – academic, sporting, cultural, and social connections that can be life changing. The School is very grateful to those families who support our ambition to provide an avenue for eager young people to reach their full potential. Mr Anthony Micallef (Headmaster)



Inma Beaumont

Petrina Gilmore

Executive Director - Advancement & Community Relations

Director of Advancement

T +61 73834 5212 E

T +61 413 619 642 E

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