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NAIDOC Week Assembly

​Guest Speaker Mr Thomas Draper, pictured with CEC Stacey Trindall and Uncle Darby McCarthy
Assembly Leaders: Gerome Burns and Savannah Orcher

Acknowledgement of Country: Uncle Darby McCarthy (permission to do Acknowledgement to Country on behalf of Giabal and Jarowair)

Principal’s Address

Mr Green acknowledged the Elders visiting today and all indigenous people, paying respect to Giabal and Jarowair peoples.  He then related a story about his run on the weekend up the Toowoomba Range (placing 57th in the Toowoomba King and Queen of the Range race.  It relates to NAIDOC week as on the flat stretch you can see the flag on Picnic Point. The fog came and obscured both the flag and his goal of finishing the race. He drew attention to NAIDOC week where we acknowledge achievements of the past and look forward to the future. The goal for our Indigenous students is to complete Year 12 education; a goal that, even if we can’t see it for fog, we must all work towards. In Mr Green’s first year at Harristown, 2010, he had a function to farewell the 16 students who were completing Year 12.  He acknowledged that that was only 59% of the cohort who began Year 11.

In 2015 there are 28 students in Year 12.  There were 29 students who began in Year 11. While it can be seen as a tragedy for the one student who hasn’t completed, this is an improvement in our school for retention.  He spoke about our need to pay our respects and congratulate those Indigenous students who are digging deep to complete their education. Mr Green encourages our students to stay the course and finish Year 12.

Guest Speaker:

Mr Thomas Draper began with Acknowledgement and thanks. He is a Construction Supervisor working in drilling with Arrow Energy.  His energetic speech began by asking students to face the tough choices about who you are and where you want to be.  His message is about having the power to choose.  He related his own story, growing up in Moree. He spoke about his learning from his father’s great work ethic and about getting up to achieve. He saw rewards from working at eight on a paper route. He put effort into boxing and worked hard, becoming an Australian champion.  He worked hard on his education and finished at the top of his primary school. He acknowledged all the indigenous peoples who fought to have education and asked students to see that a lot of blood has been spilt to get them into a classroom and it is never too late for an education.

He then related his experience from his teenage years, where he felt the need to feel accepted. He owned his own behaviours, with violence, drugs and alcohol and related how he was in a car crash that nearly ended his life. He told the story of the pivotal moment when a lady asked, “Have you figured out why God kept you alive yet?”

Mr Draper realised that he could be a role model, not looking at the kid he was but the man he could become. He decided to change his life and not use the colour of his skin or his circumstances as an excuse. He worked hard looking for work while his mates were partying at schoolies, and jumped at the offer of an apprenticeship.  He talked about his apprenticeship stating that it was tough, facing racism. He kept the big picture of earning his trade papers in his mind. He achieved his papers and has gone on to build many homes. He has travelled overseas to play league.  After listing his achievements, he questioned, “If I can do this, why can’t you?”

Mr Draper talked to the students about their fear of failing, a fear that stops you from putting in the hard yards.  He encouraged students to not be afraid of trying. Success is about attitude, making the most of opportunities and working hard. He encouraged students to ask for help but realise that making the choice to better your life comes first.

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.” ― Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete

He encouraged students to push through the cracks and be a rose that grew from concrete, using Tupac Shakur’s poem as inspiration.  He asked students to be proud of Indigenous Culture and history. He spoke about the need for leaders. He hopes that one day there is a student be standing where he is, trying to convince students to become everything they can be.

Dancers: William Haupt, Casey Turnbull and the Wilga Brolgas from Wilsonton SS

Thanks to all who have participated in NAIDOC week.