“It’s great to have lived long enough to see the nation starting to appreciate the longest-living civilization on the planet,” Professor Bashir said.
Professor Bashir spoke to the Koori Club kids of their 60,000 year old heritage, of the fact they were the first artists, and of how she had gone to school with Wiradjuri Aboriginal children growing up in Narrandera, a Wiradjuri word for blue-tongue lizard.
“I hope you’ll go through life being very proud of your heritage,” she told students.
“Learn as much as you can.”
She said there is now a higher percentage of people of Aboriginal heritage finishing their schooling than that of people of non-Aboriginal heritage.
“It shows that Australia is becoming stronger and stronger. We can be the cleverest people in the world. You combine your wisdom and heritage with generosity of spirit and you can make the whole world a better place.”
She asked the children to follow the advice of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, where people had been treated very badly but chose to reject violence.
“He said the most powerful weapon you can have is education and I believe that is true,” she said.
“You are going to a wonderful school, and you can go on learning right through your lives.”
Head Girl Mi-kaisha Masella thanked Professor Bashir for sharing her time and wisdom with IGS over a number of years.
Professor Bashir, who said teaching was “one of the finest things human beings can do; passing on knowledge”, was presented with a Koori Club t-shirt and IGS teddy bear.