National Reconciliation Week
‘In This Together’ is the theme for National Reconciliation Week 27th May – 3rd June 2020
Theses date remind us of two successful moments in Australian history, the 1967 Referendum and the High Court Mabo Decision.
The 1967 Referendum, Australia voted to amend the Constitution in two areas. The words “…other than the Aboriginal people in any State…” in section 51(xxvi) and the whole of section 127 were removed, allowing for Indigenous people to be included in the census, and giving federal Parliament the power to make laws in relation to Indigenous people.
It was hoped that this change would benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in decision making processes.
In 1992 the High Court of Australia decided that Terra Nullius shouldn’t have been applied to Australia regarding land ownership and recognized that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to the land before Colonisation.
In 1993 The Native Title Act was introduced which allowed for First Nations Peoples to have rights to land that they are culturally connected too.
It’s also been 20 years since over 250 000 people walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge in solidarity for Reconciliation.
Reconciliation Australia’s vision is based and measured on five dimensions
1. Historical acceptance.
2. Race relations.
3. Equality and equity.
4. Institutional integrity.
These five dimensions are interconnected and won’t work as separate entities.
Below are some thoughts shared by Highlands Community Centres staff about what National Reconciliation Week means to them.
“I was talking to my step daughter the other day about the fact that as non-Aboriginal people, we can never fully understand the experience, both present day or historical, of our First Nations People. For me Reconciliation Week is about taking time to reflect, to empathise and learn, and importantly to honour, this ancient culture”.
“Reconciliation to me means truth, justice, healing and forgiveness. Working together to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people”.
“Reconciliation to me is about learning the truth about Australian history, acknowledging the truth, honouring an ancient culture and actively working together to naturally incorporate the unique needs and ways of Aboriginal people into day to day life. I’m always surprised at how little non-Aboriginal people know and understand about Aboriginal culture and historical experiences, but then I remember that I was taught about “Aborigines” and “clapping sticks” when I was at school. I felt angry and ripped-off that I wasn’t afforded the truth or a deeper understanding. I thank every Elder, every Aunty, every Uncle, every Sister, Brother and Cousin, who has helped me understand, and find my privilege in having this opportunity to learn. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Australian had a deep understanding of our First Nations people and their experiences, and then naturally adjusted their privileged lives to help create better futures for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters? If we were truly and genuinely “in this together”?
“Reconciliation week is an opportunity for all Australians, both First Nations people and non-Indigenous cultures, to share our stories, our truth and our lived experiences. It is a chance for White Australians to look at our history and learn from the shore instead of from the ship”.
“Reconciliation is an opportunity to acknowledge the past, show respect, healing and a way forward”.
“Reconciliation for me is coming together to learn and share the truth of Australia’s history, to embrace my rich and special culture and to celebrate the achievements of all people committed to Reconciliation values”.
Some community members wrote some of their thoughts about National Reconciliation Week on the pictures below.
This is a time for our country to learn the truth of our shared history, acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and celebrate achievements.
In This Together