3 May 2024

North Gungahlin's newest high school gifted the name of prominent Ngunnawal Elder

| Claire Fenwicke
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Aunty Agnes Shea’s family (pictured with new principal Daniel Mowbray) said they were honoured that the Taylor high school would be named after the Ngunnawal Elder. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

WARNING: This article refers to and contains images of an Aboriginal person who is deceased.

The legacy of a champion of reconciliation and one of Canberra’s most respected Ngunnawal Elders, Aunty Agnes Shea, will continue at the Territory’s 92nd public school.

The ACT’s newest high school, located in Taylor, will be known as Agnes Shea High School.

Her family was present when the announcement was made, with granddaughter Selina Walker stating that while they were emotional, they were also honoured.

“Education was a huge part of the work that Nan did, and it was where she started her advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Nan always had a heart for children and education, and she knew that’s where our future lies,” she said.

“She was a giant.”

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Aunty Agnes was a founding member of the United Ngunnawal Elders Council, a member of the advisory board to ACT Health, helped establish the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm and was a member of the ACT Heritage Council.

She received the Centenary Medal in 2001, a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2004, was named an ACT Senior Citizen of the Year and secured a place on the ACT Honour Walk in 2010.

Aunty Agnes died in March 2023.

Education Minister Yvette Berry hoped naming the school after such a prominent and senior Ngunnawal Elder would inspire future generations who came to learn about her life and story.

“She was small in stature, but she was larger than life in her representation of her community and for making life better for Ngunnawal people in this region in particular,” she said.

Aunty Agnes Shea and granddaughter Selina Walker at the launch of Violet's Park.

Aunty Agnes Shea and granddaughter Selina Walker. Photo: File.

Daniel Mowbray was announced as Agnes Shea High School’s inaugural principal as the school’s name was unveiled.

He’s been principal of the University of Canberra High School Kaleen for the past five years and has almost 20 years’ experience in education.

Mr Mowbray said he wanted to make sure Aunty Agnes’s dedication to the principles of social equity, inclusion and respect among cultures continued at the school.

“[I want to make sure] that the school is not just Agnes Shea in name, but that those values live and breathe in the culture of the place,” he said.

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Work will now begin on designing the Agnes Shea High School logo and uniform, with consultation to include Mr Mowbray, Selina Walker and architects.

Once initial designs are drafted, the wider community can have their say on the logo and uniform design options through YourSay.

Agnes Shea High School will open in 2025 to year 7 and 8 students in the beginning, expanding up to 800 students to year 10.

Its priority enrolment area is the same as Margaret Hendry School’s, covering residents of Taylor, Moncrieff and Jacka (north of Appleford Avenue).

Enrolments for the 2025 school year are now open.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

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