Reid and Tesch join hands with First Nations leaders

Teacher Lisa Selby (left) and Dr Gordon Reid (centre) with Henry Kendall students

Henry Kendall High School invited Federal Member for Robertson, Dr Gordon Reid and Gosford MP, Liesl Tesch, to place their handprints in the Cooinda Room, alongside the handprints of well-known First Nations leaders.

They both said it was a great honour to be asked to place their handprints alongside leaders such as Charles Perkins, Gail Mabo, Archie Roach and Ernie Dingo.

“There have been some remarkable and powerful First Nations leaders that have come before me and placed their handprints in this place,” Dr Reid said.

“I am truly humbled to now have placed my handprint alongside theirs and do not take this privilege lightly.

“The Cooinda Room is a safe space and a symbol of inspiration to many of the Indigenous students and teachers at Henry Kendall High School.

“It serves as an educational resource for all the students and communicates the rich cultural history and connection First Nations people have with this country.

“I was very proud to know that students at Henry Kendall High School are provided with such deep and significant learning opportunities about our First Nations peoples and I congratulate the school, the principal and teachers on this,” Dr Reid said.

Dr Gordon Reid places his handprint in the Cooinda Room

He also took part in a yarning circle with Gosford MP Liesl Tesch; school principal Andrew Backhouse; Cooinda cultural co-ordinator, Aboriginal studies and English teacher Lisa Selsby and First Nations students from the high school.

“I really enjoyed listening to the stories students had about their background and their families,” Dr Reid said.

“It was also touching to hear stories about family connections that were discovered between students at the school.

“I gave students an outline of my Aboriginal background and the work I will undertake to better recognise and represent First Nations people in our country’s decision-making processes as part of the new Federal Albanese Labor Government.

“Having met and listened to the First Nations students at Henry Kendall High School, I am assured that this generation will be a cohort of strong leaders of the future,” Dr Reid said.

Gosford MP Liesl Tesch, who is a retired Aboriginal studies teacher, said it was “a joy to return to the classroom and speak with young leaders who are incredibly proud of their Aboriginal identity”.

“It gives me confidence moving forward that Australia and our community will be strong and respectful of our heritage with these future leaders,” she said.

Cooinda Cultural Coordinator and Aboriginal Studies and English Teacher, Lisa Selsby, spoke about the importance of the Cooinda Room to all students and how special it was to have Dr Reid and Tesch visit.

“Cooinda means happy place and the room is a powerful space,” she said.

“If Cooinda’s walls could talk it would have the most amazing stories about Country you could imagine.

“Our kids are leaders because Cooinda has meant safety and connection, a place to be heard and a place that has been shared now for generations of students over the 30 years since it was envisioned and established by Gavi Duncan and Alan Herring.

“Their legacy lives on through the teachers and the students and anyone who connects with Cooinda,” Selsby said.

Media release, July 29
Federal Member for Robertson, Dr Gordon Reid

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