National Reconciliation Week begins today: a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements.
Celebrated from May 27 to June 3 each year, the dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
This year’s theme is More than a word. Reconciliation takes action, and marks a call for the movement towards braver and more impactful action.
Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine says there are more people than ever before engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
“We’re saying: if we want to see reconciliation and this idea of a just, equitable and reconciled country then we actually need to do more than just know things – we need to do something with that knowledge – and that means action.
So really it’s a call-out to all of our supporters, to all of our allies, to everyone who believes in these ideas of reconciliation, that they come together and they put their knowledge into actions. That they take a stance on issues.”
20 years of Reconciliation
This year marks 20 years of Reconciliation Australia and almost three decades of the formal reconciliation process.
Ms Mundine says the movement has seen a lot of change in the last five years.
“We see more and more people who are engaged in the issues around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people understand the history of this country but more importantly understand the impact of that history and how the systems and the state has had an impact on First Nations people.
Over the last few years of our work we’ve seen more than 1100 Reconciliation Action Plans in workplaces all around the country. There are well over 1100 schools and early learning places who are participating in reconciliation and engaging in issues in an age-appropriate way.
However, as is alluded to in our theme, we need to do more. We need to actually see the benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We know that in the last couple of years we’re seeing more kids in out-of-home care, we’re seeing more people in incarceration, and this is where the impact actually needs to be felt.
That’s the kind of thing we need to be standing up for and saying ‘enough is enough.'”