In the lead-up to NAIDOC week (7–14 July), two Melbourne Catholic schools celebrated the opening and blessing of new learning centres named in honour of an inspiring Indigenous woman and Victoria’s First Nations heritage.

New learning centre inspires courage and determination

A new learning centre at Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows, draws on a powerful story of determination and courage to inspire current and future students.

The Annie Brice Building is the newest facility at the college’s Broadmeadows campus, providing a mature and flexible learning environment for students in Years 11 and 12. The centre is named in honour of Annie Brice, a proud Boandik woman from South Australia, who was a student and friend of St Mary MacKillop.

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Aunty Michelle Jacquelin-Furr, a descendant of Annie Brice, speaks at the opening of the Annie Brice Building at Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows. (Photo courtesy of MACS.)

‘As Annie embraced the educational opportunities that Mary and the nuns offered her, she became a role model for other Indigenous children’, said Principal Tracey Kift. ‘Annie also recognised the important role she played in passing on the stories, traditions and languages of her own culture. With her deep commitment to family and culture, as well as the opportunities afforded by education, Annie went on to live a life characterised by courage and a determination to fight for justice.’

The new two-storey centre consists of general learning areas, staff areas, breakout spaces and amenities. ‘This building is already communicating powerful and aspirational messages to our VCE and VCE Vocational Major students of how their learning is valued as they prepare for diverse pathways beyond school’, said Ms Kift. ‘We are already seeing the impact that this beautiful new learning centre is having on our senior students.’

The centre was officially opened by Bishop Terry Curtin and Kathleen Matthews-Ward MP, Member for Broadmeadows. Guests included descendants of Annie Brice, including Aunty Michelle Jacquelin-Furr, along with Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) Executive Director Dr Edward Simons, the college’s former principal Chris Caldow, and members of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

The school is thankful for a grant of $2 million from the Victorian Government towards construction of the centre.

Where young minds can flourish and grow

The new era of learning has begun at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hughesdale, with the opening of the school’s Wominjeka Centre.

Named to honour the Woiwurrung word for ‘welcome’, the Wominjeka Centre symbolises the college’s commitment to inclusivity and connection with the lands of the Wurundjeri people.

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The new Wominjeka Centre at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hughesdale, is officially opened by the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, Member for Hotham, and Most Rev Anthony Ireland, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne. (Photo courtesy of MACS.)

The ground floor of the new centre has purposefully designed spaces to support learning diversity, the counselling service and community relations, as well as sport and outdoor education. The second and third levels comprise flexible classrooms and open learning spaces that encourage collaborative teaching and learning experiences. The garden area to the south of the centre features a range of locally unique plants.

‘These new facilities are a testament to our commitment to nurturing the minds and spirits of the young people in our care’, said Principal Christopher Dalton. ‘Here, we are creating spaces where young minds can flourish and grow.’

The Wominjeka Centre was opened by the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, Member for Hotham, and blessed by Most Rev Anthony Ireland, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne. The school is thankful for the $1.5 million contribution from the Australian Government.

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The new Wominjeka Centre at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hughesdale. (Photo courtesy of MACS.)