National Reconciliation Week 2024: An Opportunity to Learn More About Australia’s Reconciliation Journey

An Opportunity to Learn More About Australia’s Reconciliation Journey

G’day everyone! This week, we want to chat about National Reconciliation Week 2024. From May 27 to June 3, it’s an opportunity for Australians to reflect, learn, and engage in the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

At VIVA Mutual we believe that everyone has the right to live the life of their choosing, and we carry this belief through all that we do, seeking to support equity and justice for all people. This week, many of the VIVA Team are choosing to support National Reconciliation Week, and today we’re sharing some of our learning with you.

What is National Reconciliation Week?

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is an annual event that encourages all Australian and our visitors to learn about our nation’s histories, cultures, and achievements. It’s a time to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

It is organised by the not-for-profit Reconciliation Australia, and this year’s theme is “Now, More Than Ever” which aims to build on the momentum of previous years, emphasising the importance of truth-telling and acknowledging past wrongs while taking tangible steps toward a united future. 

The beginning and end of Reconciliation Week are marked by two significant dates: May 27, the anniversary of the 1967 referendum, and June 3, Mabo Day, marking the High Court’s decision in 1992 that acknowledged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ land rights.

What was the 1967 Referendum?

“On 27 May 1967, Australians voted to change the Constitution (the document that describes the basic rules for governing Australia) so that like all other Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be counted as part of the population and the Commonwealth would be able to make laws for them. A resounding 90.77 percent said ‘Yes’ and every single state and territory had a majority result for the ‘Yes’ vote. It was one of the most successful national campaigns in Australia’s history” (AIATSIS, 2024).

Reference:
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). (2024). 1967 Referendum. Retrieved from https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/1967-referendum

Why Do People Think That Reconciliation is Important?

For the majority of Australians, reconciliation is about forging respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community. It involves recognising the lasting impacts of colonisation, addressing inequalities, and ensuring that the First Peoples of Australia have equal access to opportunities and resources.

For many, reconciliation is a deeply personal journey. It’s about understanding the past, acknowledging the wrongs that have been done, and committing to a fairer, more inclusive future. Reconciliation is not just a symbolic gesture; it’s about making meaningful changes in governments, communities, organisations, and institutions.

How Can People Support the Reconciliation Journey?

If our readers choose to support and promote reconciliation, there are countless ways you can get involved and here are some practical steps you can take:

  1. Learn more about our First Australians

Understanding the history and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is important. Here’s how you can start:

Read and Listen: Explore books, articles, podcasts, and documentaries about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. Works by Indigenous authors and creators provide invaluable insights.

Attend Events: Participate in local events, including talks, exhibitions, volunteering and workshops. These events offer a fantastic opportunity to learn and engage with the community.

Sign up for E-newsletters: Sign up to the Reconciliation SA and/or the Reconciliation Australia newsletter and/or SA’s NAIDOC Week.

 

  1. Acknowledge Traditional Custodians of Country

Respecting the traditional custodians of the land where we live, and work, is a simple yet powerful act. Here’s how:

– Find out where you live: Check out a map of Indigenous Australia and find out where you live

– Acknowledgement of Country: Begin meetings, events, and gatherings with an Acknowledgement of Country. If you’re not sure how, there are many resources available to help you learn the correct protocol.

– Welcome to Country: When possible, arrange for a local Elder to perform a Welcome to Country at your events. This ceremony shows respect and recognises the connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their land.

 

  1. Support Indigenous Businesses and Initiatives

 

Economic empowerment for First Australians, a key aspect of reconciliation. Here are ways you can contribute:

Buy Indigenous: Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses. Whether it’s art, food, or services, your support can make a significant impact.

Engage with Indigenous Services: Whenever possible, hire Indigenous consultants and contractors. This not only supports their businesses but also helps to build strong, inclusive networks.

Attend Events: Participate in local events, including talks, exhibitions, and workshops. These events offer a fantastic opportunity to learn and engage with the community.

 

  1. Advocate for Change

Use your voice to advocate for policies and practices that promote reconciliation. Here’s how:

– Speak Up: Talk about reconciliation with friends, family, and colleagues. Sharing what you’ve learned can inspire others to get involved.

– Support Policy Changes: Advocate for policies that address systemic inequalities and support the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This includes supporting efforts for constitutional recognition and truth-telling initiatives.

Attend webinars: Sign-up to Reconciliation Australia to learn more and add your voice without having to leave home, or maybe attend from your local library or community centre.

 

  1. Reflect on Personal and Organisational Practices

Take a moment to reflect on your own actions and the practices of the organisations you support and who support you.  Here’s what you can do:

– Reflect: Consider how your personal behaviours and attitudes contribute to reconciliation. Are there biases you need to address or more you can do to show respect and inclusivity?

– Review Policies: Have a look at the policies and activities of the organisations you support, like retailers, support providers, Local Councils, etc. Are they inclusive and supportive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? 

Conclusion

National Reconciliation Week is a time for Australians to share, reflect, and take action. By educating ourselves, acknowledging traditional custodians, supporting Indigenous businesses, advocating for change, and reflecting on our own practices, we can all contribute to a more reconciled Australia.

Your VIVA Mutual team is passionate about building a future where everyone feels valued and respected and has the opportunity to live the life of their choosing; being involved in National Reconciliation Week is a great way to support the wellbeing of our First Australians and therefore, improve our communities.

Reach Out for Support

VIVA Mutual’s Support Centre team is always available to share our expertise and experience for the benefit of Support Coordinators, NDIS participants and those who support them. Many of us live with disabilities ourselves and/or have family members with NDIS Plans too, so we know what we’re talking about.

For a confidential chat with one of VIVA Mutual’s understanding and supportive folks, please call 08 8877 8000 or email us via admin@vivamutual.org

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