Across the country, high profile Australians from chefs, presenters and a retired Defence Force Chief to young activists, an Archdeacon and an international film star have pledged their support for reconciliation by becoming ambassadors for National Reconciliation Week (May 27-June 3).
Bundjalung man Mark Olive (aka ‘The Black Olive’) has over 25 years’ experience as a chef and is passionate about fusing native food and culture with modern lifestyle cooking through his business, Black Olive Catering.
“Reconciliation is about recognising what Indigenous people have been through, the struggle that they’re still facing but also how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians can work together, come together and make this a really unique country that works in harmony and shares knowledge and cultures,” says Mark.
“Reconciliation is about being patient, being respectful of each other understanding where we come from and what opportunities we have in this country.”
Getting together over a meal is one way that fifth-generation Chinese-Malaysian cook, artist and television presenter Poh Ling Yeow thinks Australians can talk about reconciliation.
“I’ve been really lucky to travel around Australia and experience first-hand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and food seems to have that ability to bond people from lots of different cultures. For me personally, it has played a huge part in me reconciling with my Chinese-Malaysian heritage – so I’d like all Australians to get around the dining table and talk reconciliation because it is everyone’s business.”
Wiradjuri author and public speaker Dr Anita Heiss says it’s the flow on effect of reconciliation that helps people to focus on the positives that she appreciates.
“I personally feel that for much of the year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are mostly invisible in terms of our positive and generous contributions to Australian society.
“National Reconciliation Week is at least a concentrated effort to say: ‘hang on wait a minute, look at all these amazing Indigenous people, initiatives, and cultures that are available for the whole country to enjoy and engage with’.”
Other ambassadors include actor Hugh Jackman, Triple J Breakfast presenter Alex Dyson and singer/ actress Casey Donovan, first Aboriginal female Archdeacon Karen Kime and Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (ret’d).