16 June 2017 Emily Yong   | News | Whole School  
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National Reconciliation Week runs annually from the 27th of May to the 3rd of June. Reconciliation Week helps to celebrate and build respectful, united relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and other Australians. Reconciliation is a national journey, one walked by every single person in Australia, and every single person’s efforts count.

This year is particularly significant as we reflect on two historic anniversaries in Australia’s reconciliation journey. As we commemorate these significant milestones, we ask all Australians to be a part of the next big steps in our nation’s journey, to continue to walk the path of unity and respect.

Saturday the 27th of May, marks exactly 50 years since the historic 1967 Referendum, a defining event in our nation’s recent history, which proposed changes to the Australian Constitution to grant Aboriginal peoples the same civil rights as other Australians. The Referendum was supported by all political parties and 90% of Australians voted for change in order to make Australia a fairer place. The Referendum meant that Aboriginal people became part of the Australian census and the Federal government could begin to make laws to ensure improved rights for Aboriginal people. 

Saturday the 3rd of June, commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to this land—a relationship that existed 60,000 years prior to colonisation and still exists to this day. The Mabo decision overturned the legal fiction that pre-colonial Australia was terra nullius – a latin expression meaning ‘land belonging to no-one’, and paved the way towards the Aboriginal Land Rights and Native Title achievements.

All Australians are invited to participate in our nation’s reconciliation journey. Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of us all, every single one of us, as we move forward this year and into the future, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other non-Indigenous Australians. We must reflect on the past to move forward into the future, a notion particularly poignant this year. 

Please make reconciliation part of your story this week and think about how important it is for us as a united Australian people to heal the wounds of the past and to work towards closing the gap between Aboriginal people and Non-Aboriginal people across Australia.