Each year between 27 May to 3 June National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia. NRW celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. It is a chance for everyone to look at how they can contribute to the national reconciliation effort.
NRW was first celebrated back in 1996 and if you are wondering why it is held this time each year then read on! This week represents some significant moments on the road to reconciliation:
May 27 is the date in 1967 that more than 90% of Australians voted “yes” to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the census and to give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Although the referendum did not end discrimination it was an important point in history. One reason is that it allowed laws to be made that were designed to redress some of the disadvantage that many Indigenous people experienced in the past. Furthermore, it was symbolic in its recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
June 31992 is the date of the landmark Mabo decision in which the High Court recognised native title and that terra nullius (the British declared Australia was terra nullius or “empty land” when they arrived) should never have been applied to Australia. This decision was important as it recognised the unique connection Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the land and that this connection existed before the British arrived and endures today.
Another significant date to note is National Sorry Day which occurs the day before NRW (May 26). National Sorry Day remembers and honours the Stolen Generations.
How can you get involved?
There are events being organised across the country or you could organise your own event! The website of Reconciliation Australia, which is the national organisation responsible for building and promoting reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and other Australians, offers a wonderful array of resources. These resources will assist you with ideas for how you can get involved, fact sheets to answer any questions you might have about reconciliation and a page where you can add and share your event online.
What is the NGO Learning Centre doing to celebrate National Reconciliation Week?
We have put together a podcast for you to listen to!* Amber Roberts from Reconciliation Australia shares valuable information on how your organisation can go beyond NRW celebrations and look to developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
RAP’s are practical strategies that your organisation can put into place that have been proven to significantly contribute to creating a workplace where respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers and other workers exist.
Let’s walk the talk!
*The interview is available to read on the Resource Shelf
NGO Training Project Officer