Reconciliation Week 2017

Posted in Front Highlights, News

Reconciliation Week 2017

National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May – 3 June. These dates mark two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: the 1967 referendum and the historic 1992 Mabo decision, respectively. It is a significant week in Australian life for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to get together and learn more about each other.

In 1967, the Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them.

In 1992, Eddie Mabo successfully challenged the Australian legal system and fought for recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of their land.

‘Quite simply, Eddie Mabo brought an end to a two-centuries-old lie.’ – Rachel Perkins, Director of Mabo

And in 2008, Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to the Stolen Generation for the atrocities committed by successive Australian parliaments and governments.

But has the lives of the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples changed much as the result of these watershed moments?

No white Australian has been forced from their homes, businesses, mines or farms as the result of the Mabo decision. In fact, the judges had ruled that the Mabo decision was in no way to challenge the legality of non-Aboriginal land tenure.

Only land such as vacant crown land, national parks and some leased land, can be subject to claims by the Aboriginal owners. Hence, in many ways, the victory has been more symbolic than practical.

The same can be argued for Kevin Rudd’s apology. Though a great deal was made at the time, no compensation has been forwarded to the families affected. Many of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to live in poverty, have lower life expectancy and higher chances of incarceration.

 

So as we embark on another chapter in our country’s history, we need to stop and reflect as to what we hope to achieve, not just for our immediate future, but for the future of generations to come; the type of country we wish to live in; And how we want to be remembered.

 

 

Let’s take the next steps…