National Reconciliation Week is held from 27 May to 3 June every year. These dates commemorate two significant milestones for reconciliation – the 1967 referendum which acknowledged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the High Court Mabo decision.
This year is a significant year as it is the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000, when Australians came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation and show their support for a more reconciled Australia, including here in Canberra.
This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 is In this together which reminds us that we all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their histories and cultures. But it is also very relevant to the current COVID-19 situation, and so a virtual launch of Reconciliation Week was conducted at midday on 27 May with people across Australia encouraged to share their virtual Acknowledgements of the Traditional Owners of the Country on social media.
National Reconciliation Week is preceded by National Sorry Day on 26 May, which remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities (‘The Stolen Generations’). The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament an dwhich was the report from the Government Inquiry into the past policies which caused children to be removed from their families and communities in the 20th century.
Also on 26 May in 2017, at the conclusion of the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru, council member Megan Davis delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a consensus document on constitutional recognition, developed by a 16-member Referendum Council of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders. Over a six-month period the council travelled to 12 different locations around Australia and met with over 1,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives. The meetings resulted in a consensus document on constitutional recognition, the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
We would encourage you on this long weekend in the ACT (the first Australian State/Territory to dedicate a public holiday to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) to:
- Learn more about the history behind Reconciliation Week by visiting Reconciliation Australia’s website https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/;
- Read the online May edition of Reconciliation News: https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/news/reconciliation-news/
- Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart:https://ulurustatement.org/ ;
- Learn about the history of the Reconciliation Bridge Walks held across Australia 20 years ago: https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/2020/04/22/when-australia-walked-the-talk-the-2000-reconciliation-bridge-walks/ ;
- You can also participate in the ACT’s virtual Reconciliation Day event TOGETHER IN YOUR HOME – find out more at http://events.act.gov.au/reconciliation-day;
- Listen to the Ngangkarri Women’s Group message of strength, resilience and healing sang for Stolen Generations, families and communities at the Healing Foundation website: https://healingfoundation.org.au/2020/05/25/sorry-day-2020/.