Melbourne’s Federation Square will warm to the sights and sounds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music, dance and comedy when National Reconciliation Week is launched there on Monday 27 May at 12.30pm. Melbourne will be linked with a simultaneous launch in Cairns via a live stream on the huge Federation Square screen.
Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair, Dr Tom Calma AO, said the launch will be an opportunity for Melbournians to recognise the contributions, cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and have fun while doing it.
“Reconciliation is serious business but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun because fundamentally it’s about building relationships and friendships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians,” he said. “The Federation Square launch of National Reconciliation Week will reflect this as the Lord Mayor of Melbourne joins comedians, movie stars as well as the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and leaders of the national movement for reconciliation.”
“Let’s talk recognition is the theme for this year’s week and constitutional recognition of Australia’s First Peoples is a priority. Formal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our constitution and the removal of sections which allow for racial discrimination is serious business.”
“Australia prides itself on being a place of fairness, but under the Australian Constitution; while racial discrimination is no longer accepted in our community, in our workplaces and in our daily lives, the Constitution permits laws that discriminate on the basis of race.
“Australia’s founding document does not recognise the first chapter of our national identity and it’s about time that was changed,” said Dr Calma.
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey:
- May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which 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.
- On 3 June, 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title.