National Reconciliation Week 2016

Theme: “Our History, Our Story, Our Future”
Friday 27 May – Friday 3 June 2016

Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week (NRW) 2016 have left us feeling reflective, inspired and hopeful that a more just and reconciled Australia is on its way. The theme: "Our History, Our Story, Our Future", was woven through the more than 100 events around Victoria. These events saw Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across all generations and sectors of the community come together to acknowledge past injustices and their ongoing impacts, reflect on what has changed since the formal reconciliation process began 25 years ago and how far we still have to go, celebrate the culture and talents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and celebrate working and walking together. 

RecVic staff, Council members and volunteers were involved in 45 events throughout the week, including 10 for which we were able to contribute small grants, in communities such as Panton Hill, Tyabb, Shepparton, Geelong, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Murumbeena, Ballarat, Melton, Fawkner and South Melbourne.

Many of these moving events reflected genuine and meaningful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people developed over time, showing that reconciliation is not a once-a-year occasion but something that is now happening throughout the year in an ongoing way.

The Treaty and self-determination conversations underway between the State Government and Aboriginal communities is an exciting and welcome development for our movement, and the two-day talks in Melbourne at the beginning of Reconciliation Week seems to have reflected goodwill and commitment to the next steps in the process. Around 15,000 people gathered to join Michael Long on his annual walk to the MCG from Federation Square during the Sir Douglas Nicholls Indigenous Round, including the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

On Mabo Day the 2016 Community HART Awards (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) were presented in a fitting way to close out the week, highlighting some of the best demonstrations of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people working together. This year, Geelong One Fire & Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative’s ‘Reconciliation in the Park’ and City of Yarra's ‘Connecting with the Aboriginal History of Yarra: A Teacher’s Resource’ took out the honours.

A huge congratulations to all the finalists this year! Check out our HART Awards page for details of all the winners and finalists as well as for photos and event reports from all around the State.

 


 

2016 is a year of commemoration and celebration for reconciliation in Australia – it is a year to build a platform for understanding our nation’s history, story, and future.

The year marks a quarter of a century since the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 15 years since the establishment of Reconciliation Australia, and 10 very successful years of Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program.

2016 is also a year to celebrate the future, with the launch of the inaugural State of Reconciliation in Australia report by Reconciliation Australia. The Report provides momentum to re-energise and re-mobilise the reconciliation movement into the next generation..

Throughout 2016 we ask all Australians to reflect on our national identity, and our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures, and to seek to understand and engage with reconciliation.

 

What is Reconciliation Week?

National Reconciliation Week is an annual celebration and is a time for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories, and on the contributions and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  The week is framed by two key events in Australia’s history that provide strong symbols of the aspirations for reconciliation.

May 27 marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 Referendum saw 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. 

June 3 is Mabo Day – On this day in 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision which overturned the notion of ‘terra nullius’ and legally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ connection to their country, a connection that existed prior to colonisation and continues today. This recognition paved the way for the Native Title system.


National Reconciliation Week 2015

Geelong's Deadly Dancers, recipients of a Highly Commended Award in the 2015 Community HART Awards, presented at Korin Gamadji on 28 May. Photo: James Henry

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is now complete and what a bumper year it's been!! RecVic staff, Council members and volunteers were involved in 43 events throughout the week. Thanks to support from Reconciliation Australia we were able to provide 13 small grants for reconciliation activities during the week. Across Victoria there were well over 100 events, with thousands across Australia.

One of the highlights was this year’s HART Awards, where the Shearwater Festival and City of Yarra's Smith Street Dreaming took out the honours. A huge congratulations to all the finalists this year. Check out our website for details of all the winners and finalists as well as for photos and event reports from all around the State.


Around the traps

National Sorry Day commemoration at Port Phillip Citizens for Reconciliation hosted in South Melbourne on 26 May. 

Around 80 guests attended, including the Mayor, four Councillor,  two former Councillors, Deb Chapman from RV, friends from Inner South Community Services, Galiamble and the Eco Centre. You could have heard a pin drop as MC and PPCfR Co-Chair, Dennis Fisher, spoke before inviting guests to the microphone.  Sandy Greenwood read a moving poem about members of her family, all stolen that she’d written that morning and Declan Furber-Gillick read a poem about visiting his grandmother’s grave with his father. Singer Maurial Spearim, harmoniously accompanied by singer/guitarist Brett Lee, ended her set powerfully. Many thanks to Aunty Judith ‘Jacko’ Jackson; for her warm Acknowledgement to Country, to Cr Amanda Stevens, Mayor, City of Port Phillip, and in absentia, Sue Pennicuik, MLA, for their messages of support. (Parliament was sitting so Sue and Martin Foley, MP for Albert Park, were unable to attend).

Some of the 80 guests.

L-R: Kate Munro, Sandy Greenwood with singers Brett Lee and Maurial Spearim.

 


NRW Resources for schools 

Reconciliation Australia has developed this Teaching and Learning Ideas Kit for teachers.  The Kit includes lots of suggestions of activities you can run during the week.

Check out their NRW webpage for a full list of resources and ideas for activities you or your school can take part in.

The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria has also kindly shared these new resources in the lead up to National Reconciliation Week.

A National Reconciliation Week Prayer

A River Dreaming - by Elizabeth (Betty) Pike This text is a valuable resource for the Australian Curriculum at Foundational and Year 9 levels, and for religious education courses.

A River Dreaming Learning Activity A Learning Activity - English and History. Adopt a Totem Reconciliation Project / River Dreaming "…there are several ways to find your totem animal. You can have an animal given to you by an elder, you can discover it yourself or it will one day somehow find you and open the doors for you to learn other things about yourself.” Richard Frankland