Reconciliation Week 2019

Next week we celebrate Reconciliation Week 2019. This is a very special time of year when all Australians are reminded to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Why these dates? 27 May to 3 June are significant because these dates commemorate two important milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. The 1967 referendum was a momentous occasion in our history; it was on this date that more than 90 per cent of Australian voters chose ‘Yes’ to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Mabo Day is equally significant - it marks the work of Eddie Koiki Mabo to overturn the fiction of terra nullius (land belonging to no-one), the legal concept that Australia and the Torres Strait Islands were not owned by Indigenous peoples because they did not ‘use’ the land in ways Europeans believed constituted some kind of legal possession, which gave rise to native title.

This year’s Reconciliation Week theme is Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage. It is a theme which resonates strongly with many of us, myself included. Truth-telling is at the centre of Makarrata, and speaks to me of being honest about our history, and is a process not of placing blame, but of healing. This refers to our First Nations history, and indeed the whole and truthful history of Australia. We as a nation cannot move forward until everyone knows and understands where we have come from. For more information on Makarrata, see here.

To learn more about NRW, visit Reconciliation Australia.

Deborah Hoger