National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates, commemorates and acknowledges the rich culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a time to reflect on Australia's reconciliation journey and the work that needs to be done to address the disadvantages still experienced by Indigenous Australians. I would encourage you to get involved in some of the events across the country, during NRW from Sunday 27 May to Sunday 3 June, as they present an opportunity to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements.
The theme for this year's National Reconciliation Week is "Don't keep history a mystery", encouraging everyone to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and develop a deeper understanding of our national story. Visit Reconciliation Australia's website where you can find out more about National Reconciliation Week. The website lists events and organisations all over Australia, which are strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Events range from indigenous film screenings to picnics, art exhibitions, lunches, Sorry Day, talks and much, much more.
Reconciliation by artist James Hurley (photo of painting by May Cross)
NRW in a Nutshell
1967 – In a national referendum, 90.77% of Australians vote "YES" to give the Commonwealth Government the power to legislate for aboriginal people and to include them in the census. 1992 – The High Court recognises native title in the landmark case Mabo vs Queensland.
PM Paul Keating delivers the "Redfern Speech" recognising the history of dispossession, violence and forced removal of Aboriginal children. 1993 – Australian Parliament passes the Native Title Act. The first Week of Prayer for Reconciliation is held which later becomes National Reconciliation Week. 1995 – The Australian Government officially recognises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
1996 – The first national Reconciliation Week is celebrated.
Artist unknown (photo of painting by May Cross)
Here is my pick of NRW events in Federation Square:
1. Songs for Reconciliation
Every weekday lunchtime during NRW, from 12 noon to 1 pm, there will be live music in Fed Square:
Join thousands of supporters for the 14th annual Long Walk in Melbourne. You can again join Michael Long, the Essendon legend, and put the lives of Indigenous people back on the agenda as part of National Reconciliation Week. There will be live entertainment at Fed Square before the walk, from 2 pm to 5:30 pm. Be part of this celebration of the beautiful culture and amazing talent of Australia's First Nations peoples. The following will be performing live on the main stage:
Russell Robertson and Phil Ceberano,
Brolga Boys, and
If you buy The Long Walk package, you'll have the incredible opportunity to walk onto the MCG arena as part of the pre-game entertainment. Then there will be the traditional Dreamtime at the G game between Essendon Bombers and premiers Richmond Tigers. This event promises to be an amazing experience you'll never forget. Bookings are recommended before the event as the tickets will sell fast.
You're invited to celebrate Mabo Day with the Torres Strait Islander community to commemorate the anniversary of the Mabo Decision. Join in at Federation Square's Deakin Edge. Bring blankets and a picnic (preferably some delish bush tucker) to share, sit and enjoy live music, performances and family activities. There is a terrific programme of live Torres Strait Islander performances including music and entertainment, hosted by singer and actor Lisa Maza. Highlights include the internationally acclaimed Gerib Sik Torres Strait Island Dance Troupe, The Black Sistaz and more.
For further details, more events and schedules, see Fed Square website.
What is Mabo Day?
Mabo vs Queensland was a landmark case, in which Eddie Mabo challenged the insidious notion of 'Terra Nullius'; that Australia was a 'land belonging to no one', in the High Court of Australia. His victory resulted in Native Title rights for Indigenous people in Australia for the first time since colonisation. On 3 June 1992, it was ruled that the Meriam people of the Murray Islands were entitled to the possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the Murray Islands, setting a precedent for Native Title cases throughout Australia.