Celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2019!

National Reconciliation Week runs annually from 27 May – 3 June, book-ended by the anniversaries of the 1967 Referendum and the Mabo decision. This year’s theme is “Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage”.

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all people 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 this year is asking us to continue the call for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history.

Rodney Dillon, Indigenous Rights Advisor for Amnesty International Australia and Palawa man said,

”People have to understand the history of what’s happened. They took our lands, then they took our children away, they took our wages and enslaved our people. People have been suffering from this ever since. We can’t go ahead with reconciliation until we talk about the things that were done to our people, so people can understand the truth of what happened.”

Black and white blurry image of Aboriginal people stand in a row, chained together by their necks, wearing riji (carved pearlshell) as they stand in the mangroves of Broome, c. 1910.

Chained Aboriginal people wearing riji (carved pearlshell) as they stand in the mangroves of Broome, c. 1910.
Supplied: Broome Historical Society, courtesy Freney Collection.

For me, it’s about people having the courage to look at the past. It’s not about guilt, it’s about having the courage to understand it. We need this done now before it’s forgotten.

Can you imagine how our people would feel if everyone knew the truth about our history? That would be a celebration. That would be true reconciliation.”

Rodney Dillon, Palawa man, Indigenous Rights Advisor

So what can you do?

Amnesty encourages all of our supporters to consider how you can be part of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the broader community. 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.