National Reconciliation Week is a time dedicated to promoting unity, understanding, and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians. This year, Reconciliation Week is celebrated from 27 May and culminates on Saturday 3 June, which is when we will hold our Indigenous Sport Round.
Reconciliation Week holds great significance as it commemorates two significant events in Australia’s history: the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. The 1967 referendum saw Australians vote overwhelmingly to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the national census and grant them equal rights as citizens. The Mabo decision, handed down on 3 June 1992, recognised the land rights of indigenous Australians, acknowledging their ongoing connection to the land.
The theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week is ‘Be a Voice for Generations’. The theme encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise. For the work of generations past, and the benefit of generations future, it encourages us to create a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all. It is appropriate that this connects so closely to the EREA Touchstone; Justice and Solidarity, our focus for 2023.
However, reconciliation is not just about one week of the year. It is an ongoing journey and something that we take very seriously at St Patrick’s. Development of our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is underway and will soon be published. Through consultation with many staff, parents, community members and students, our RAP aims to foster and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by deepening staff and student cultural competency. We continue to maintain our connection with the Arrente people of central Australia through our yearly immersions to Mparntwe (Alice Springs), by hosting some of the fellas from the Alice Springs mob to visit us each year, and by embedding indigenous perspectives into our teaching and learning programs.
National Reconciliation Week will be the focus of our Assembly on Friday where we will hear from a guest speaker about our shared and continuing journey towards national reconciliation. This Saturday 3 June is our Indigenous Sport Round. Our Firsts teams in Rugby, Football and Tennis will wear the College Indigenous jerseys in respect for the great richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders cultures in our country, and our hope for a future in which we can fully say that we are all ‘one and free’.