Out the front of Bourke – Currawah Adventist Aboriginal College

The main attraction for us to do this roadie was so we could be at the official opening of Currawah Adventist Aboriginal College which was held on Monday afternoon. The boarding school is located half-way between Coolabah and Brewarrina in North Western NSW.

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I’m lost for words to describe our time in the bush with these beautiful kids, and their carers and teachers. Each one of them are an absolute treasure and we can’t wait for each one of them to grow into amazing young men and women. They will be able to show their family and friends that the cycle can be broken and the gap can be closed.

At the moment there are 16 Indigenous 12-13 year olds who currently attend this new boarding school and they are all in Year 7. Some kids have arrived at the beginning of the year not being able to write their own name. The level of ability currently sits between Kindergarten to Year 5 – this won’t be for long! The teachers have already seen massive progress in the 6 months that the school has been operating.

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The setting is stunning with the emus, brown snakes, wild pigs, amazing bird-life and kangaroos. It sits on the Bogan River and has a constant water supply.

 

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This is our mate Tommy. He did a brilliant job of playing the didgeridoo in the opening ceremony. Nice Bunnies shorts Tommy.

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The kids have StormCo T-shirts as their uniform for the moment until the kids design their new uniform with Uncle Leo’s help, the Indigenous chaplain, for next year.

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The picture above is the kids and their teachers singing “Shine Jesus Shine” which got me all teary.

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The Holy Spirit is moving and there is big vision for this school.

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This is Teak (I think!) and he is exactly the same mix as our Rusty (Jack Russell x Maltese). He loves chasing pigs and playing fetch with anyone who wants to play with him. The kids love him to bits.

So there you have it, that was our adventure to Currawah. I’ll jump at the next opportunity to dash up the Mitchell Highway. In fact if you ever get an opportunity to go up there, you need to take it and  go.

P.S. We didn’t end up sleeping in the back of the car as there was a free room in the green fibro. LUCKY!

A little reunion… Brisbane Adventist College

Not last weekend… but the weekend before, Richie & I were in Brisbane catching up with people from his past.

We stayed with our fabulous friend Karyn and there were plenty of jokes shared about being caned, copying homework, throwing rocks, playing in flood drains and putting the hose up bus exhausts… It was BAC’s 45th Anniversary and it was a good excuse for a bit of a reunion.

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Richie flew up on Thursday as he was asked to preach/give his testimony on Friday night. On Sabbath, when I had arrived, heaps of people told me how well he had spoken and how much they had enjoyed hearing his old stories.

Friday night he shared some good memories, and some not so great memories with the 200-300 strong crowd. At one end of the spectrum, while he was quite young, he was given a remedial teacher to help him with his schoolwork. This teacher ended up telling his parents that there was no point continuing as he was Aboriginal, and he would never amount to anything. If only she could see him now! Don’t start me – I’ll get on my soap-box.

Now at the other end of the memory spectrum, Richie shared that his school was his Aboriginal sacred site. It was also his Christian sacred site as this place, to him, was  holy ground –  it was here that he met Jesus Christ for the first time.

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Richie was School Captain in his final year at High School and truth be told, in the younger years, he was one of the naughtiest kids in the school. Uncle Jim Searle, the Deputy Principal for many years, got up the front on Sabbath and said that he should have been paid over-time for all the after-school hours he spent with Richie in hard labour trying to prevent him from getting expelled.

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In the photo above I can spot 2 teachers from my days at SAC – Miss Madden (now Mrs Meany – she really was the loveliest teacher!), right up the front on the far left and the lady in red right in front of me who taught me General Science whose name I can’t remember!

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Oh bless.

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Sorry for the blur, but I was keen to show you Richie & Hayley’s “Before and After” shot.

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This is Uncle Jim (or Mr Searle to everyone at school). I walked straight up to him when I saw Richie having a yak and a giggle with him and said, “Hello, I would like to shake the hand of the man who use to give my husband the cane!” We had a good laugh. Richie told me no matter how many times Uncle Jim would cane him, at the end of every year he would always take him a present. One year Richie gave him a Hyper-colour t-shirt and another year he gave Mr Searle a Roger Rabbit stuffed toy.

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This sweet man, an old teacher of Richie’s, came up to me and said “Richie is my Guardian Angel. He saved my life once.” Mr Miller went on to tell us that one class he had a “flighty student” who he ended up getting kicked out. He was angry and started yelling at this kind teacher. To the class it seemed liked he was going to flip out and pick up a desk. So Richie, brazenly stood up beside Mr Miller and gave the impression that if the student tried to take-on Mr Miller, Richie was going to step-in and open up a can. “Don’t worry Sir, he wouldn’t have got to you. I would have flatened him.” Imagine that! Richie trying to be a tough guy.

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Richie & Andrew in their year book. Note Andrew’s ambition: “To be like Benny Hill.”

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That night we were invited to the Reunion Dinner held down at “The Glen”. Richie told more stories of how he and his friends use to eat all the food supplies out of the food tech room and how they use to get caught kissing in the dark-room.

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Next day we headed off to the School Fete held on the oval. We saw Uncle Paul, the copper, from Park Ridge church (Richie’s childhood church).

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Richie challenged Uncle Paul to a discussion about how inaccurate speed cameras/lasers are on the police motorbike and Uncle Paul showed Richie what he does when teenagers refuse to be cuffed. Can you see Richie’s shoulder and elbow popping?

So our flash visit to Brisbane was excellent. Weren’t there for a long time, but a good time.

P.S. Richie just pulled up a booklet called “Brisbane Adventist College – A Short History” which was given to him at the reunion and launched that weekend. He is featured in the following excerpt:

“A BAC First

Of particular pleasure for Principal Mr Brian Robinson was the election in 1995 of Richie Reid as College Captain. Richie was the first indigenous student to hold that office. Not only was Richie baptised into the Adventist church in a campus baptism, he went on to ministerial training at Avondale College and subsequently served the church in Queensland as a pastor, school chaplain and Conference youth leader. He is currently chaplain at Sydney Adventist College. Richie is representative not only of the best of indigenous Australians but also the quality of student at BAC.”

What would Mrs Remedial Teacher say now?