Reflections on the past pave the road to reconciliation

This week marks National Reconciliation Week (NRW). It commemorates two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey — the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

This year’s NRW theme is Don’t Keep History a Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow. It encourages all Australians to unearth our shared past and discover more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

Reconciliation Action Plan project manager at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Casey Millward, said the week invites Australians to ask themselves: what are some of the things I don’t know about our history?

“It’s essential as Australians we share an understanding of the history that has shaped the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians,” Casey said.

According the 2016 Australian Reconciliation Barometer our nation’s history is a mystery to many Australians, with more than one in three Australians not accepting that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were subject to mass killings, incarceration and forced removal from land.

“For me, to truly create a reconciled Australia we need to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and the way to do this is through truth telling, understanding and acceptance.”

The department has never been more committed to its reconciliation journey as it embarks on achieving a new and ambitious phase of a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan by the end of the year.

“As the lead agency for the public service and the department responsible for the Indigenous Affairs portfolio we play a vital role in leading the way forward for a united and reconciled Australia,” Casey said.

“A key component of attaining Stretch RAP status is embedding reconciliation initiatives into business strategies so it becomes business as usual.”

“We believe that by working with our partners, employees, other Australian Government agencies, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, we can positively influence reconciliation in Australia and make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Further information on activities and events during National Reconciliation Week visit the Reconciliation Australia website.

This article was originally published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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