I have been asked many times “what is the difference between NRW and NAIDOC week?” For me they are two sides of the same coin. Both have currency in acknowledging the past and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and success.
National Reconciliation Week is also a time for Australians to celebrate respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
Recognition is central to both these events.
National Reconciliation Week, which officially started yesterday and runs through to June 3, are important dates that are a reminder of the advancements in equality and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They are also significant demonstrations of the power of respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
On Wednesday evening I attended a welcome dinner for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament where Aunty Matilda House spoke passionately of the legacy of our elders who in the 50’s and 60’s dramatically helped progress the social landscape in Australia—and increased the momentum for change. They were joined by Faith Bandler (South Sea Islander heritage) and Jessie Street (Australian) and more than 80 000 other Australians to campaign for the “yes” vote on May 27 in the 1967 Referendum.
The 1992 Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia recognised native title was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights because they acknowledged our unique connection with the land.
Both these events have shown that when trust, respect and understanding are developed with a kind heart it can bring our nation together in the hope for a fairer future.
This is worth celebrating!
With the number of events registered for National Reconciliation Week 2012 over 500, it is a strong indication of the goodwill throughout our nation to continue to build stronger relationships, national pride and opportunities for a prosperous future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Let me take this opportunity to thank each and every single Australian for helping make NRW 2012 an amazing success. Happy National Reconciliation Week!