Louise Mullins, QCOSS

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) runs annually, from 27 May to 3 June, and marks two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: the 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. In 2017, we reflect on two significant anniversaries – 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Mabo decision.

The theme for this year’s NRW is ‘Let’s Take the Next Step’.  The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

What is National Reconciliation Week?

Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

27 May —Marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.

3 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 the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.

How to get involved in NRW

Take part in NRW activities near you or start an event yourself. Here are some ideas of how you could get involved:

  • Coordinate a Welcome to Country
  • Conduct an Acknowledgement of Country
  • Display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • Participate in local community events
  • Have a yarn - positive change starts with a conversation
  • Host a morning tea
  • Hold TED screenings
  • Visit sights of cultural significance
  • Host a book club
  • Promote NRW on social media
  • Screen indigenous films and TV programs
  • View Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
  • Attend cultural awareness training
  • Gather to share food

To find out more about NRW events in Queensland go to Reconciliation Queensland website.

Does your organisation have a RAP?

One method of driving the national reconciliation effort is through the creation of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which provides a framework for organisations to realise their vision for reconciliation. A RAP enables organisations to clearly commit to implementing and measuring practical actions that can help build respectful relationships and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

There are four different RAPs – Reflect; Innovate; Stretch; and Elevate – each designed to suit different organisations, regardless of where they are on the reconciliation journey.

Reconciliation Australia outlines the benefits of developing a RAP to give your organisation the best chance of achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement objectives and delivering broader outcomes:

  • To become an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • A more dynamic, innovative and diverse workforce
  • A more culturally safe and dynamic workforce
  • Access to new markets and better penetration of existing markets
  • Better service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities
  • The opportunity to contribute to new projects, industries, services, products and ways of doing business.

To find out how your organisation can start its reconciliation journey go to the Reconciliation Australia website.

Find out more about National Reconciliation Week here.

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