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Ellen José Student Reconciliation Awards - winners and finalists 2024

"As a young person, what does reconciliation mean to you?"

The Ellen José Student Reconciliation Awards are aimed at Bayside primary and secondary school students, bringing awareness of reconciliation to our young people, who are the future of Australia, through art and writing. Entrants are asked to interpret "As a young person, what does reconciliation mean to you?" in their artwork or writing piece.

This year, Dr Joseph Toscano from the Ellen José Memorial Foundation, Ellen José’s children Libera Toscano Sasmana and Joshua Toscano, and Bayside City Council Mayor, Fiona Stitfold, had the challenging responsibility of judging the exceptional finalists and selecting winners in the art categories of Prep-Grade 3 and Grade 4-6 and the visual art and written category for secondary school students.

Congratulations to the young winners who were awarded their prizes at the Flag Raising Ceremony on Saturday 25 May, marking the start of Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June).

Prep to Grade 3 Winners

Ava K, Bayside Children's Program - 1st place

Childs drawing of two hands about hold over a bridge with clouds.

Image credit: Ava K, Bayside Children's Program 

Charlotte I-C, Sandringham East Primary School, 2nd Place
Pola F, Brighton Beach Primary School, 3rd Place
Charlie D, Sandringham East Primary School, 3rd Place

Grade 4 - 6 Winners

Lily C, Hampton Primary School, 1st Place

A child's drawing of a peace sign with an Australian flag, aboriginal flag and Torres Straight Island flag. Animals including a koala, turtle and kangaroo also feature in this artwork.

Image credit: Lily C, Hampton Primary School

Saige H, Back Rock Primary School, 2nd Place
Lola F, Black Rock Primary School, 3rd Place
Jasper T, Hampton Primary School, 3rd Place
Mina LY, Hampton Primary School, 3rd Place

Years 7 – 10 Winners

Ailish K, Star of the Sea College, 1st Place

Childs painting of two young girls with flags in the background.

Image credit: Ailish K, Star of the Sea College


How to build a bridge.  

By Mikey M

 It starts with curiosity. The question “What does Reconciliation mean to me?” makes me wonder what reconciliation is for, and who we are reconciling with? it’ a curious thing to ask a young person. 

 I began to think about how we are one group of people separated from another group of people. Reconciliation for me, is about how to build a bridge.  

 Standing apart 

The first thing that you can see when we’re standing apart, is how different we are from each other. But if you stand there long enough, and both sides are curious, you start to wonder how we can get to know each other better.  

 Reaching out to each other with the same idea 

You can’t build a bridge from only one side. Both sides have to be working towards the same goal. When they start out, all they have is a blueprint. Each side is watching the other side to see how they progress. It’s construction, not competition. And nobody is really sure of what it’s going to look like. But they keep working at it.  


When building a bridge, you don’t rush to make the connection, in fact, real connection is the last step. You have to build up each side symmetrically so that the bridge will be strong when the two sides connect.   

 Now we’re almost there 

Construction takes a long time. But when you look at it, you can see we’re almost there. If we abandon it now, the whole thing will collapse. At this point, now you have to strengthen what has already been built and strengthen your commitment to finishing the job. 

 This is what reconciliation looks like 

Bridges aren’t for looking at or talking about, bridges are to be used. People need to cross it. The final step is to make the connection by crossing the bridge over and over again.  

 And that’s what Reconciliation means to me. 



‘Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.’ - Nelson Mandela. This quote by Nelson Mandela states exactly what reconciliation means to me. Reconciliation means to unite and work as a team to forgive past wrongs, learn from them and take action to get one step closer to world peace. 

In Australia, reconciliation means to recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and respect their decisions as well as ours. It means to think about the discrimination they had to face and to make amends by recognising them as people equal to everyone else. The First Nations People also have to take part and forgive the British for what they did. As Alan Paton said, ‘It is not “forgive and forget” as if nothing wrong had ever happened, but “forgive and go forward,” building on the mistakes of the past and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future.’ The First Nations People of Australia certainly did have to face prejudice, and they should never forget it. However, they should try to move forward to help create a better future. 

This world has two options, have world peace or live on a planet of hatred and darkness. Having world peace will create trust and unity. ‘World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet.’ - Universal House of Justice. We need humans to open up their minds and create peace within themselves. People need to accept diversity and treat everyone fairly, no matter what their background is or what they believe. At the moment, many people are too independent and don’t trust others and only care about what happens to them. This will never achieve world peace. As Jimi Hendrix once said, ‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.’ This is why we need reconciliation, so we can achieve self and world peace. If we choose no world peace, the world will experience conflict, suffering, violence and instability. We would lose resources such as livestock. Families would be torn apart; lives would be lost. People would be changed permanently, only thinking about their survival and no one else’s. In other, simpler words, humanity would be doomed. With all these wars going on around the world and some people caring mostly about money and power, it looks like the world is heading straight for that ugly world of conflict and selfishness. The only way to stop it and turn the world towards peace and happiness is reconciliation.  

That is what reconciliation means to me. A bright ray of hope and cheerfulness slicing through the darkness, guiding people to a better life. ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’ - Martin Luther King Jr. Reconciliation is a pathway to world peace.  

Years 11 – 12 Winners

Celia S, Beaumaris Secondary College, 1st Place

Beaumaris College, Celia S

Image credit: Celia S, Beaumaris Secondary College

Thank you and congratulations to this year’s finalists

Prep to Grade 3 Finalists

Harper M, Black Rock Primary School  
Ted S, Black Rock Primary School
Oscar J, Brighton Beach Primary School    
Aryan T, St Leonard's College
Freya LC, Library Workshop

Grade 4 – 6 Finalists

Ellie R, Beaumaris North Primary School        
Ruby F, Firbank Grammar
Kyla T, Haileybury      
Lillian C, St Leonard's College



View all the Prep - Grade 3 entries

View all the Grade 4 to 6 entries