May 27th to June 3rd is National Reconciliation Week around Australia. This year’s theme is ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’ It challenges all Australians, including individuals, families, communities, organisations and governments to be brave and get to work on addressing the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for the benefit of all Australians.
Last year, this week invited all Aussies to take action, not just during the recognised week but every single week of the year. It was met with an unprecedented response to the suggested actions to be braver each and every day.
This year is continuing on that theme. Everyone is invited to make change beginning with brave actions in their own day to day lives; where they live, work and socialise.
While there’s never a bad time, this week certainly encourages us all, regardless of our backgrounds, to learn about our shared histories, cultures, achievements and explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
The date of National Reconciliation Week is always the same each year. The reason for this is to recognise two significant milestones in the journey towards reconciliation in this country. They are the 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
On the 27th of May, 1967 Australia’s most successful referendum saw more than 90 per cent of the country vote to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and importantly recognise them in the Census.
On the 3rd of June, 1992 the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision. The culmination of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one) and leading to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands. This paved the way for the Native Title.
For Australia to truly achieve reconciliation, it must live in the hearts, minds and be displayed in the actions of all Australians every day as we contribute to a nation of respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
National Reconciliation Week began as the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation in 1993, which was also the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and was supported by Australia’s major faith communities. Three years later the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation launched the country’s first National Reconciliation Week.
In 2001, Reconciliation Australia was introduced to continue to provide national leadership on reconciliation. That year, around 300,000 people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge during National Reconciliation Week and across other bridges in towns around the nation in solidarity of reconciliation.
These days there are hundreds of events happening every year for National Reconciliation Week. You can find out what’s on this year via their website.