National Reconciliation Week marks a definitive time where non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people come together as a nation, strive to correct the errors of the past and learn more about our shared cultures.
Two significant events are commemorated during this time, the first is the 1967 referendum (which saw Aboriginal people recognised in the national census) and the second is the landmark Mabo Case (1992) which recognised the special relationship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the land whilst also paving the way for Native Title.
The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2016 is Our History, Our Story, Our Future.
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.
Source: National Reconciliation Week website 2016
The Commission for Children and Young People see this time as one for meaningful dialogue, reflection and a cultural learning to improve our role in improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria.
We marked the beginning of Reconciliation Week with a walking tour of the Birrarung Marr led by Uncle Lenny Tregonning from the Koorie Heritage Trust. Stories and sights shown to the staff provided a poignant reminder of the past and history of the Kulin Nation where our office is located. Staff also came together for a Morning Tea highlighting the role of culture and revisiting Paul Keating’s 1992 Redfern address.
Earlier this year when the Commission launched its Aboriginal Inclusion Action Plan, Andrew Jackomos, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People remarked “If you continue to seek knowledge; if you forge good relationships with Aboriginal people; if you listen and act on their cultural advice and if you are inclusive in all aspects of how you do your work, you can all make a difference”.
We still have a long way to go in Australia as we seek to correct the errors of the past and their intergenerational impact. The Commission want everyone to recognise and celebrate the thriving and diverse Aboriginal cultures in Victoria. We want Aboriginal children to be able to stand safe and proud in their culture - a culture that has survived, evolved and flourished.