STRONGER TOGETHER: National Reconciliation Week - A Time for Reflection and Renewed Commitment

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Last updated: 03/06/2024

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the significance of National Reconciliation Week in Australia, highlighting historical milestones and advocating for active participation in reconciliation efforts, especially through meaningful workplace engagement and education on Indigenous cultures and histories.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Every year, from May 27 to June 3, Australia's journey toward reconciliation is put under the spotlight during National Reconciliation Week (NRW).

These dates hold profound significance, representing pivotal moments in our shared history.

May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, where over 90% of Australian voters chose 'Yes' in a historic decision. The landmark vote recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the national census and empowered the Australian Government to enact laws addressing inequalities. It was a powerful step toward recognition and justice.

June 3 marks Mabo Day, a tribute to Eddie Koiki Mabo, a courageous Mer Island man who challenged the Australian legal system to advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples as the true custodians of their ancestral lands. After a decade-long battle, the High Court of Australia rejected the notion of terra nullius—the idea that Australia was unoccupied before British colonisation. This landmark decision affirmed Indigenous land rights, acknowledging their enduring connection to the land.

Today, National Reconciliation Week invites all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The theme for NRW 2024 is “Now More Than Ever”, a powerful reminder there is still more work to do when it comes to reconciliation. As individuals, we can be learning about culture, challenging discrimination, and working towards better outcomes for First Nations people to signal our commitment to connection, respect, action, and ongoing change. Now more than ever we must unite and raise our collective voice.

In the workplace, we must create safe spaces to have conversations about our history, the diversity within our teams, and opportunities to celebrate and individuality. In my workplace, we recognised that acknowledging country is not something that you recite, using generic language that can be found in a Google search. At IMPACT, we recognised the need to listen to the collective wisdom of our people, especially First Nations staff, who were willing to support our broader team to engage, learn and listen.

Together, we crafted a bespoke Acknowledgement of Country that resonates with the rich diversity and heritage of Indigenous lands. This includes respect for the land, significant local landmarks, the local mobs, their connections, acknowledgement of spirituality, and the spirits of the ancestors. IMPACT's commitment to this new Acknowledgement of Country is a heartfelt recognition of the land’s traditional owners and their enduring connection to it.

Now, more than ever, we must continue this journey towards unity and respect. Each of us can play a part by participating in NRW activities, educating ourselves and others about Indigenous cultures and histories, and advocating for policies that promote justice and equality for First Nations people. Now, more than ever, we need reconciliation.

Read IMPACT Community Services’ Acknowledgement of Country here.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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