Don’t keep history a mystery: National Reconciliation Week in action

By David Donaldson

Monday May 28, 2018

Australians are being urged to learn more about their history as part of National Reconciliation Week this year, with an ad campaign highlighting the contribution of Indigenous Australians.

The “Don’t Keep History A Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow” campaign highlights some of the lesser-known aspects of Australia’s Indigenous history.

Many Australians are unaware of, or reject, fundamental aspects of history, according to a survey conducted by the Australian Reconciliation Barometer for Reconciliation Australia. The survey revealed that:

  • Almost one in three Australians do not accept that government policy enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be removed from their families without permission until the 1970s.
  • More than one in three Australians do not accept that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were subject to mass killings, incarceration, forced removal from land and restricted movement, throughout the 1800s.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine hopes National Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3, will raise awareness of the fact that historical acceptance is key to reconciliation.

“It’s essential that we know each other, and that we share an understanding of the history that has shaped the relationship between wider Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as it stands today,” she says.

“Only by acknowledging, accepting and addressing our shared history can we become a more just and equitable Australia.”

The 30-second and 60-second ads show a non-Indigenous man enjoying a game of football, before he starts to address the audience.

“Oh g’day, I’m just your average Australian. I’m just doing average Australian things like watching Australian football with my Australian Shepherd,” he says.

The man says he knows quite a bit about our country — including that we have the “tastiest coat of arms in the world” — before he is interrupted by an Aboriginal woman.

“There’s also a bit that you don’t know. We’ve got the longest surviving culture on earth,” the woman says.

“Just your average artists,” an Aboriginal man chimes in.

“Warriors,” another Aboriginal woman says.

“Inventors,” a third Aboriginal woman offers.

Queensland launches Reconciliation Action Plan

As part of Reconciliation Week, Deputy Premier and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Jackie Trad launched the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021 alongside elders, community and peak reconciliation bodies in Brisbane.

“Our Reconciliation Action Plan is the Palaszczuk government’s collaborative, living and breathing commitment towards Closing the Gap,” Trad said.

“It will be delivered in partnership with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, service providers, peak bodies and industry leaders including Reconciliation Australia and Reconciliation Queensland Incorporated.

“The plan acknowledges historic injustices as part of healing in the spirit of reconciliation.

“National Reconciliation Week is a national campaign each year from 27 May to 3 June that commemorates two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey — the successful 1967 referendum and the 1992 High Court Mabo decision.

“It’s a very important week and shines a spotlight on the nation’s reconciliation progress, however the Queensland government recognises that reconciliation requires an ongoing commitment 365 days a year, every year.

The RAP aims to improve the recruitment and retention of Indigenous Queenslanders in the public sector workforce and increase the number of Indigenous businesses successful in gaining government procurement contracts.

It also includes a suite of engagement activities that will build on and strengthen partnerships and empower local communities to achieve positive and practical outcomes. These activities include an annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-themed cabinet, annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Summit and establishment of a ministerial advisory mechanism.

Learn more about Reconciliation Action Plans here.

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