Celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2017!

National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June, and this year’s theme is ‘Let’s take the next steps’. To celebrate, Amnesty International launched our third and most comprehensive 2017-2020 Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern on Wednesday 31 May.

Natasha Jayaratne from Reconciliation Australia spoke at the launch about the importance of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) and what they have achieved. In 2006 when RAPs were introduced, only eight organisations signed up. That’s compared to over 880 organisations with RAPs in 2017.

Throughout the last financial year, RAP organisations have:

  • Employed more than 19,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Provided $14 million in education scholarships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
  • Spent $170 million on goods and services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses
  • Sent over 52,000 people to complete cultural awareness training

These achievements contribute to addressing the economic and social disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities experience.

Our National Director, Claire Mallinson, highlighted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been calling for the right to self-determination, to regain control of their lands and to stop the removal of Aboriginal children from their families over the past 100 years, and yet sadly, the same calls are still relevant today.

“Amnesty International’s RAP helps the organisation understand better about what it means to be Aboriginal. These are all positive steps and that is the exciting part about it. Many of our staff members are wanting to make change and the RAP supports this.”

Rodney Dillon, Palawa man, Indigenous Rights Advisor

Amnesty International action centres also celebrated National Reconciliation Week across the country. These events included discussing the anniversaries that book-ended the week this year:

  • The 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum on 27 May
  • The 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision on 3 June

These events were attended by staff, Branch Committees, activists and volunteers.

Amnesty encourages all of our supporters to consider what reconciliation means to you and how you can be part of reconciliation. You could:

Reconciliation isn’t just something that we do once a year. Meaningful reconciliation means developing mutually beneficial respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are asked to be part of reconciliation all of the time, whereas non-Indigenous Australians can choose to participate or not. We encourage you to be someone who chooses to participate in reconciliation.

With our new RAP, Amnesty is ready to take the next steps toward reconciliation and we invite you to join us on this journey.