This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week was “Don’t keep history a mystery.” Australians were asked to learn, share and grow by exploring our past and learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, developing a deeper understanding of our national story.
This year marked a number of days of national significance, such as the 80th anniversary of the 1938 Day of Mourning and the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 National Apology to the Stolen Generation. These days helped form learnings about the importance of Reconciliation Week. The week itself was in-between two important dates. On 27 May was the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and on 3 June was the anniversary of the historic High Court Mabo judgement.
27 May 1967 – On this day, Australia’s most successful referendum resulted in more than 90% of Australians voting to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census.
3 June 1992 – The Australian High Court on 3 June 1992 delivered the Mabo decision, the culmination of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no-one) and leading to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands. This decision paved the way for Native Title.
This year during National Reconciliation Week, Reconciliation Australia invited all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, to share that knowledge, and help us grow as a nation.
Historical acceptance is one of the five integral and interrelated dimensions of reconciliation in Australia. As well as appreciating the tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories prior to British colonisation, true historical acceptance requires all Australians to understand and accept the colonial wrongs of the past and acknowledge both the immediate and intergenerational impacts of these wrongs. It is only through honestly and holistically acknowledging the past that Australia can properly make amends for past wrongs and ensure that they are never repeated.
Reconciliation Week was acknowledged on Wednesday 30 May at the Senior School muster. The assembly started with a very special ‘Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony’, conducted by Uncle John Lochkowiak. Our nine Indigenous students Hugo Hart (Year 12), Ryan O’Callaghan (Year 12), Calvin Hunter (Year 12), Adan Taat (Year 11), Scott Taat (Year 8), Lahkai Councillor (Year 8), Leon Connop (Year 7) and Nathan Spry (Year 7) also played a major part In this special Reconciliation muster by sharing what Reconciliation Week means to them. Quilon Councillor (Year 12) was absent on the day.
Marlon Motlop from the Port Adelaide Football Club was our special guest and spoke to the staff and students about his journey as well as his success and the challenges he has faced. He also talked about the Aboriginal Programs at the Port Adelaide Football Club and gave insight into the support for indigenous students and the PAFC indigenous academy.
On Thursday, Gavin Wanganeen addressed the students and shared his story of challenge and triumph as well as life after football and his career change as a world renowned Indigenous visual artist. Later that week on Saturday our students played against Rostrevor College in our 2nd Indigenous round football match.
When we stand together as a community and acknowledge our whole history, we can then build a society with respect for Indigenous culture and identity at its heart. We can find a way forward together.