By Madison Brown & Rhiannon Arnold
Reconciliation Week is a time for all of us as a nation to come together, build beneficial connections in our communities and take action to continue the positive path we have begun to pave while still respecting our previous struggles.
It brings together both First Nations people and non-indigenous Australians to reflect on the past and share cultural aspects, histories and achievements as a nation.
Reconciliation Week begins on the 27th of May (the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum), following National Sorry Day, and runs until the 3rd of June (the anniversary of the High Court Mabo decision) and encourages Australians to reflect on our past.
The name ‘Reconciliation Week’ only came about in 1996. It began as a Week of Prayer for Reconciliation until the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, now Reconciliation Australia, evolved it into what it is today. Organisations like schools and businesses use this week to educate about our history and how to better our future.
The referendum of May 27th, 1967, fought to change the law so that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would have the ability to vote, be counted as part of the census and Australian laws would apply to them. It was one of the most successful ‘yes’ votes in Australian history with 90.77% voting in the affirmative.
Before the referendum, Aboriginal Australians were not considered part of the Australian population. This referendum changed that as they were finally provided access to essential services and funding they were in need of, like improved healthcare.
The 1992 High Court Mabo decision stated that Australia was originally rightfully Aboriginal land. Captain James Cook declared the land he set foot on in 1770 was ‘terra nullius’, which translates to ‘nobody’s land’. Having this finally established as Aboriginal land was a huge win for Indigenous Australia and is one of the key events celebrated this week.
This year’s Reconciliation week’s theme is “Be Brave, Make Change”. The slogan is to help push forward and make those changes that are still left, to bring to light all the unfinished business that has yet to be changed and acknowledged. It’s to bring positive change for all Australians so that we may look forward to a brighter future.
To continue moving forward, we must recognise our past mistakes and mistreatments so that we may learn from them and not go back down a bad path. Reconciliation Week is all about educating our current and future generations to do better. It is important that we celebrate our achievements as a nation, together as one we thrive.
We pay our respects to the traditional owners of this land, of the past, present and future, and we thank them that we may continue learning about this country’s rich culture.
Feature Image: Reconciliation Week 2022 poster. Courtesy: Reconciliation Australia