National Reconciliation Week takes place from Wednesday 27 May to Wednesday 3 June and is a chance for all Australians to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. The week fosters discussion of our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and explores how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. This year’s theme is In This Together.
Education plays a large part in NRW, especially of the past and current disparity in quality of life between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Currently, the ABS identifies that while Aboriginals represent only 3% of Australia’s population, they make up a third of Australia’s prison population. Also, ATSI peoples have an almost 9 year disparity in life expectancy when compared to their non-Aboriginal Australians. Both facts are a direct result from Aboriginal peoples missing a sense of agency due to Australia’s colonial history, the cause of lasting wounds.
In a just, equitable and reconciled Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will have the same life chances and choices as non-Aboriginal children, and the length and quality of a person’s life will not be determined by their racial background. It is important, as a newly nascent and liberally-minded generation of Australians, that we move forward, hand-in-hand with Aboriginal peoples and together strive for a more equal future for all.
So, what can we do? During NRW, we can make ourselves more knowledgeable about the facts around Aboriginal history and culture. The vision of reconciliation is based and measured on five dimensions: historical acceptance; race relations; equality and equity; institutional integrity and unity. A greater historical acceptance can lead to improved race relations, which in turn bridges the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal thought bubbles and can lead to a greater sense of unity.
We can also connect with organisations such as Reconciliation Australia and gain a greater understanding of the issues facing our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, issues that are often underrepresented or become misrepresented in common media cycles and local ‘backyard’ conversations.
Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.