MAJELLA Ritchie knew nothing about Australian indigenous culture when she left university two years ago, but in two months she’ll be responsible for a handful of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The teacher at St Flannan’s primary school, Zillmere, is headed to Innisfail in January to greet 90 indigenous children at Radiant Life College, a Christian school giving indigenous Australians a positive education.
“There’s something really unique about indigenous children,” Miss Ritchie said.
“They’re very resilient and the strength they have is incredible.”
Miss Ritchie’s debut to teaching last year also marked her introduction to indigenous culture, coming in the form of children in Years 4 and 5 from St Mary of the Cross Parish School, Windsor, a school catering to a predominantly indigenous cohort.
“They invited me into their culture, their elders all welcomed me and they taught me so much about their lives,” she said.
But inside the classroom Miss Ritchie also saw a more troubling side to indigenous life.
“They have very difficult lives,” she said.
“We would come to school on Mondays and they would have so many stories to tell you but they were so open to teaching you about their lives and with their grandparents, who are part of the stolen generation.
“They taught me how that affected their lives and how it affected future generations as well.”
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.