Monday, 30 November 2020
Moreton Electorate: Milpera State High School
There are 50 schools in Moreton, but one in particular always brings a smile to my face when I visit and that school is Milpera. Milpera has a special place not only in Moreton but in the greater Brisbane region. It is a state high school that educates the children of refugees and migrants, and is essentially Brisbane's intensive English language preparation centre. Milpera provides quality education for newly arrived children from Vietnam, many South American countries, the former Yugoslavia, Africa, the Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Asia—anywhere basically. It aims to facilitate good settlement and a strong sense of belonging to Australia through carefully chosen learning experiences. Students learn to thrive in an Australian classroom at the school.
The teachers at Milpera are very experienced and are qualified to teach English as an additional language. The student-centred curriculum uses highly contextualised language learning experiences and ensures that students develop the English language needed for their future learning pathways in whatever school they choose. It also has a great volunteer team. Children spend about 18 months at Milpera, on average, before they can attend a school closer to their home.
I went to Milpera for their NAIDOC celebrations and had a quick talk with the acting principal, Julie Peel. She introduced me to two students, Ang and Rachel. Ang had arrived from Vietnam and Rachel from France via Canada. They took me through a PowerPoint presentation they had prepared to build an argument and convince the audience of their point of view. They had a carefully structured argument and provided well researched evidence to support their points of view in their new language, English. I joined in the NAIDOC Week celebrations and it was wonderful to hear the voices of our oldest living culture speaking to our newest voices.
Irrespective of where their Ang and Rachel's ancestral villages are or where my ancestral village is, which I guess is somewhere in France or Italy or Ireland, we know that where we stand is where we make a stand. The earth feeds our heart, where we are standing now. Ang and Rachel obviously had great affection for where they came from but a loyalty to here. That is the story of every Australian, whether you are First Nations people or the rest. To tell people that we can't serve two masters, which is what some people have suggested, starts with the assumption that Australians are servants. Australians are never servants. The free serve no-one. The good people help all, but they serve nobody. So thank you to Ang and Rachel. Thank you to Milpera for another wonderful educational experience. Thank you again. As I mentioned, there is an incredible volunteer army that helps out Milpera: retired teachers, retired principals, local community members from the Graceville and Chelmer area who turn up at Milpera and help these people that come from all around the world to become passionate Australians. Well done, Milpera.