It’s been a long journey towards shaping a more just, equitable and reconciled nation.
Not-for-profit organisation Reconciliation Australia marks two decades since its formation this week.
That same year, 2000, more than 250,000 people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge in a show of support for meaningful reconciliation between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Today, National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated by businesses, schools and early learning services, as well as organisations and individuals across the country from 27 May to 3 June.
These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision.
All Saints’ College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland, is one of many schools in the Hunter that will host events throughout NRW this year.
Aboriginal Education Support Teacher, Col Love, said the theme for 2020 – In This Together – was highly appropriate.
“That’s the COVID theme and it’s what reconciliation is all about – trying to get rid of injustices and inadequacies,” he said.
The theme highlights that all Australians have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation and, in doing so, collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, and cultures.
Mr Love said St Mary’s Campus would normally organise gatherings and assemblies to celebrate NRW but was unable to do so because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, he added most of the activities had been moved online.
“Each tutor group will have a prayer or a YouTube clip – one of them will show [former Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd’s apology speech from 2008 – and we’ve got other material that they will read and a few posters around the school,” he said.
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) first started as a Week of Prayer for Reconciliation in 1993 and, three years later, the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation launched Australia’s first event.
Since those days, there has been a greater acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to land and sea; an understanding of the impact of government policies and frontier conflicts; and an embracing of stories of Indigenous success and contribution.
Mr Love believed NRW had brought about many positive changes.
“The awareness is so much better – I’m nearly 67 [years old] and the changes I’ve seen are unbelievable,” he said.
“There is still a long way to go but there’s a much better understanding of what National Reconciliation Week is all about.”
Visit Reconciliation Australia’s website for more information.