Bringing Home the Flag
Loreto Ballarat past student, Macaylah Johnson, is a proud Wadawurrung woman, strongly connected to her family and ancestors. Nurtured by her mother, who works in Indigenous health and welfare, and her grandfather, an Indigenous artist and archaeologist, Macaylah has been constantly encouraged to be proud of her people and continue to learn about her culture. The Wadawurrung People are the traditional owners of 10,000 square kilometres of land to the west of Melbourne, from the Great Dividing Range to the coast, including Geelong and Ballarat.
Macaylah, during her time at Loreto College Ballarat, was a leader and activist among her peers. She met regularly with a group of Loreto girls, all with indigenous backgrounds, to discuss issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Through this group, Macaylah helped design Loreto College Ballarat’s indigenous garden and reflective point, performed many Welcome to Country speeches, and participated in numerous significant events within the community as a representative and advocate for First Nations Peoples.
After graduating in 2019, Macaylah went on to accept the position of the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer at Loreto College Ballarat. In this role, Macaylah supported and encouraged students of Loreto to create meaningful change by acknowledging, reconciling and bridging the gap with First Nations Peoples. Her advocacy and passion for her culture continued in this position until July of 2022, when she was invited to represent the Wadawarrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation in the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Macaylah was one of the Australian dignitaries who travelled to Birmingham to bring home the Commonwealth flag for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, set to be hosted in regional Victoria. This was a significant moment in the history of the Commonwealth games, with the flag handed over to First Nations Peoples for the first time. Macaylah was also one of four Indigenous peoples to perform in the closing ceremony in the UK. Her role will continue, assisting in planning the 2026 games over the coming years.
“We will use this platform to share our Cultures, encourage people to broaden their knowledge and acknowledge our Nation’s past and its repercussions. We hope it motivates systematic change to aid the journey of reconciliation and bridge the inequity gaps.”
Author: Taylor Doherty, Coordinator, Communications & Marketing, Loreto Ministries