Trinity Grammar School, Sydney, Year 6 student Daniel Lok recently made an impassioned speech at Reconciliation Australia’s monthly staff meeting in Canberra.
The young student demonstrated understanding and empathy as he spoke about misconceptions in Australian history, and the relatively unknown history of genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the speech moving his audience to tears.
After reading a series of articles called The Killing Times, published in The Guardian, and discussing them with his family at home, Daniel decided it would fit the theme of “Did you know?” for his school’s Public Speaking competition.
The following week Lok and his classmates were due to visit Old Parliament House in Canberra, and when his teacher, Shannon O’Dwyer, realised the Reconciliation Australia offices were based in the same building, she contacted the organisation.
“The intention was to find someone from Reconciliation Australia who could chat with Daniel or give him additional literature on this topic,” O’Dwyer said.
“The people I spoke to were very helpful and asked for a copy of the speech. To my surprise … and Daniel’s, he was invited to attend the monthly staff meeting and present his speech to the entire organisation.”
Lok chatted to Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine, and answered some questions about his research process and why he thinks the issue is important.
“Lok was invited to close the meeting by reciting his speech which he did with great passion, bringing many of our staff to tears,” Mundine said.
“It is very heartening to see young people like Daniel taking up the cause of reconciliation.”
Lok was then presented with a badge, recognising him as a champion of reconciliation. He was also given some literature about the Narragunnawali program and learnt how he can continue to work toward reconciliation by creating a Reconciliation Action Plan when he returns to school.
“It was an honour to sit in a real meeting and talk to people who think like me, that we have to acknowledge this part of history. I really enjoyed meeting the people at Reconciliation Australia,” Lok said.
“There was an emotion of sadness but also happiness and hope in the room, because these people work really hard for reconciliation every day. I think they knew that I was trying to help by recognising these events.”