What is Reconciliation?

By Amanda Bertschinger,

  Filed under: APY, Senior School

Each May for the last 10 years, St John’s Grammar School has had a group of Year 10s visit Pipalyatjara on the APY lands of South Australia.

Having recently returned from this year’s trip, one of our students, Jake Kuchel spoke at a School’s Reconciliation event, which St John’s Grammar School hosted last week. Having been immersed in the Pipalyatjara community the previous week, Jake’s thoughts were full of the sights and sounds of a unique corner of our country, but especially of the new friends he had the opportunity to connect with during his time there.

The following is the text of the speech he gave last week.


What is Reconciliation?

Good morning everyone. My name is Jake Kuchel and I am here to talk to you about what reconciliation means to me.

When you think of the word “reconciliation”, you most likely think of the re-establishment of a relationship. However, in the context that we most often hear it in this country, I consider it to be less about “re-establishment” and far more about the urgent need to build and promote a harmonious relationship between the broader Australian community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Reconciliation needs to be about understanding. Understanding the past and the events that have created a division. Understanding that the past is not an indicator of the future, but a learning tool to redirect the future.

For me, reconciliation must be about building positive, respectful relationships. This means having an open-minded, non-judgmental perspective on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

As the first Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people deserve recognition. For about 60,000 years, they have been custodians of this land. Throughout this time, they have developed a rich cultural heritage. When we acknowledge these people as the traditional custodians of this land, we are opening ourselves to their culture and their rich history behind it. It is only then we can truly appreciate these amazing people for who they are.

I was fortunate enough to attend the recent St John’s Grammar trip to the APY lands. 10 students left as nervous, uncertain and unaware school children. But, we came back as open-minded, respectful students, eager to do as much as we can to create a more reconciled Australia.

I believe this is due to the welcoming, openhearted and generous nature of these amazing people, who for one week welcomed us into their lives.

I hope somehow you too can experience and understand just how wonderful these people are and together we can build a more reconciled Australia.

Thank you for your time.

Jake Kuchel

Year 10 Student