Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The dates that bookend the week are significant milestones in the reconciliation journey.
May 27—Marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
3 June—Commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.
This year, 2016, is particularly momentous, with Reconciliation Australia celebrating a number of anniversaries—including 25 years of formal reconciliation in Australia with the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in 1991. It is also 15 years since Reconciliation Australia was formed and 10 years of success in its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program.
All Australians are invited to participate in our nation’s reconciliation journey.
Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of us all as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.
Make reconciliation part of your story and your future by getting involved in some of the National Reconciliation Week (NRW) activities suggested here.
The theme for NRW 2016 is Our History, Our Story, Our Future.
Our History, Our Story, Our Future is derived from the State of Reconciliation in Australia report, which asks all Australians to reflect on our national identity, and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights in our nation’s story.
‘Our History’ reminds us all that historical acceptance is essential to our reconciliation journey. Historical acceptance will exist when all Australians understand and accept the fact that past laws, practices and policies deeply affected the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, often having devastating immediate impacts and causing much of the disadvantage that exists today. It is also a commitment to ensuring these wrongs are never repeated in the future.
‘Our Story’ reflects the fact that the journey towards reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s story, as do the stories of both trauma and triumph told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It also encourages each and every one of us to make reconciliation part of our own story.
‘Our Future’ reinforces that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, in the knowledge that we believe in fairness for everyone, that our diversity makes us richer, and that together, we are stronger.