A very special ceremony took place in the Ulumbarra plaza at lunchtime today with the dedication of the Bench of Inclusion – a true community project that has involved our VET Community Services students, Applied Art students, Bendigo Local Aboriginal Network (BLAN), the Marong District Mens’ Shed, and local tradesperson Michael Shay from Maintaining Industries.

Community Services teacher Peter Burns said the project has been driven by the students. “They designed and named the bench,” he said, “and worked with BLAN to complete the funding submission for the project.”

Cody Bourke, who represented her class at the ceremony, said that the project had been a great learning experience. “We learnt how to be culturally diverse and to accept of everyone as an individual, not by their ethnicity… The bench acts as a symbol and we hope it will foster more cultural inclusion and acceptance.”

Michael Shay, who constructed the bench, said it was a great community project to be involved with. “My daughter Shay is a student in the Community Services class and it’s great to see young people involved in a project like this. The redgum came from trees cleared as part of the new bypass at Ravenswood. Vic Roads are making the timber available to community groups.”

The sign that hangs above the bench was designed and created by teacher Andy Jones and her Applied Art students.

The bench was welcomed by members of BLAN with a smoking ceremony conducted by Jida Gulpilil, before project participants joined with Principal Linda Lyons and other staff members to enjoy lunch in the plaza.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful project. Make sure you Stop and try out the bench next time you’re in the plaza.