Finding our voices: The importance of Reconciliation Week

By Tristan Eid

Reconciliation Week is a significant observance in Australia, with the aim to foster reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Its importance lies in its role in addressing the historical injustices and ongoing disparities faced by Indigenous Australians.

During Reconciliation Week, various activities, events and discussions take place across the country such as art exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops and community gatherings.

The week is preceded by National Sorry Day on May 26th and is bookended by two significant milestones: the anniversary of the successful 1967 Referendum on May 27th and the High Court Mabo decision on June 3.

National Sorry Day acknowledges the historical mistreatment of Indigenous children removed from their families, known as the Stolen Generations.

The 1967 Referendum, on the other hand, was a crucial moment when the majority of Australians voted to remove discriminatory clauses from the Australian constitution and include Indigenous Australians in the national census.

The Mabo decision is highly significant in Australian legal and social history. It was a landmark ruling by the High Court of Australia in 1992 that overturned the concept of “Terra Nullius” and recognised the existence of native title rights for Indigenous Australians.

By recognising and commemorating these events, the aim is to create awareness, promote dialogue and encourage meaningful actions towards reconciliation.

The significance of Reconciliation Week lies in the ability to bring people together, promote understanding and respect along with a shared commitment to healing the historical divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Overall, the week opens up the opportunity to reflect on the past and acknowledge the present realities while also working towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all Australians.

There will be a variety of events taking place during the period from May 27 to June 3 to mark Reconciliation Week.

These events include Aboriginal History & Heritage Tours, the National Reconciliation Week Schools Artwork Challenge and a screening of the short film Miro which will be held by the City of Sydney.

Aboriginal History & Heritage Tours-Mana-Nura is held from May 26th till July 9th from 11:30am each day at the Rocks Discovery Museum, Sydney, which will run through until Naidoc Week.

The National Reconciliation Week Schools Artwork Challenge is held from May 26th until July 9th from 5pm each day at the Rocks Discovery Museum, with artworks being digitally displayed in the museum along with an exhibition of selected works on L4.

A screening of the short film Miro and lunch will be held on May 30th from 11am-2pm at the Redfern Community Centre with guest speaker Warren Roberts, founder of Yarn Australia, and a cultural dance performance by Rayma Johnson. Attendees will also be invited to plant a hand as part of ANTARs Sea of Hands.

Featured image: Smoking ceremonies are held around Australia during Reconciliation Week. Photo: Jenny Scott/CC/flickr

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