This week is National Reconciliation Week, a special time to reflect and take action that helps bring about understanding and reconciliation. This year's theme, “Be Brave. Make Change.” challenges all Australians to be brave and be a part of tackling the unfinished business of reconciliation. It is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories and cultures, and to look at how we can make valuable changes in our everyday lives that bring us together as a nation (Reconciliation Australia, 2022).
National Reconciliation Week 2022 Illustration by Tori-Jay Mordey. Courtesy of Reconciliation Australia, 2022.
Reconciliation week runs from May 27 to June 3, and includes two significant dates in Australia’s history: the successful 1967 Referendum that removed discriminatory references of First Nations people from the constitution, and the High Court Mabo Decision - the first successful Native Title Claim. These historic moments remind us of how long and hard people have fought for justice for First Nations people, and that we are still pushing for justice, equality and reconciliation today.
What is reconciliation?
For Australia reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. For First Nations people Australia’s colonial history has been traumatic, as land dispossession, violence and racism have all had a devastating impact on people's lives. The ultimate goal of reconciliation is the acknowledgment of these wrongful doings so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the same life chances and choices as non-Indigenous children, and the length and quality of one's life is not be determined by their racial background (Reconciliation Australia, 2021).
How do I get involved?
This year's theme encourages all Australian’s to be brave and take meaningful action. Here’s 5 actions you can take in your everyday life, where you live, work, play and socialise (Reconciliation Australia, 2022). You can find more info and actions on the Reconciliation Australia website.
1. Tell the truth about racism - Racism damages lives and livelihoods, and hurts the whole community. See and hear bias in your daily social and work interactions. Call it out and report it.
2. Acknowledge Country - Acknowledge Country in meetings and gatherings, add the name of Country to letters and parcels and display names on buildings and offices.
3. Get Your facts from Indigenous sources - Mainstream media can be inaccurate, negative and unbalanced in its portrayal of Indigenous people. Get your facts straight from the source. Check out NIT, NITV, Koori Mail, Indigenous X and ABC Indigenous.
4. Own our history - Our true history has often been hidden from us. When talking about the history or story of Australia it is important to always include the participation and presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
5. Get reconciliation into Schools - If you didn’t learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at school, make sure our kids do now. Check out Narragunnawali, a reconciliation education platform.
National Reconciliation week is all about engaging the wider Australian community, because every single one of us can contribute through brave action and change. To learn more and find Reconciliation Week events happening near you head to the Reconciliation Australia website.