04 Jun 2017
A copy of the speech given by Year 10 Aboriginal Student, Divinia Eather at last week's assembly.
As you may or may not be aware, this week is Australia's National Reconciliation Week which really is an important celebration for all Australians. Unfortunately though, I realise many of us have never heard of not only this week, but of reconciliation as a whole.
In the context of Australia's history, reconciliation has been a journey of improving relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people and non-indigenous Australians through unity, respect of heritage, justice and equity for all Australians.
National Reconciliation Week runs every year from the 27th of May until the 3rd of June, marking very important milestones in our history.
The 27th of May recognises the 1967 referendum which paved the way for Aboriginal Australians to be counted in the census, established a citizenship status and finalised voting rights for the aboriginal people. An incredible 90% of the population voted to remove clauses in our constitution which discriminated against Indigenous Australians.
The 3rd of June, the last day of reconciliation week, marks the anniversary of the Mabo decision, named after Eddie Mabo who fought for the recognition of the indigenous people as the rightful owners of their land. After 10 years, the High Court of Australia officially recognised Native Title, finally acknowledging the rights of the indigenous people as the traditional custodians of Australia, as we do at the commencement of our assemblies and presentations with the acknowledgement of country.
This week also recognises every stage in Australia's history which has and continues to contribute to the unification of our society. Including the freedom ride, the equal wages campaign, National Sorry Day, the Corroboree Bridgewalk and Kevin Rudd's apology to the stolen generations.
National Reconciliation week presents all Australians the opportunity to celebrate our collective identity. It also raises awareness and educates us about our past as a nation and the rich history and culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by removing the myths, misinformation and prejudice among the population.
2017 is a significant year for reconciliation, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision, so Reconciliation Australia has made this year's theme 'Let's take the next steps' as we continue on this journey together to become a connected, understanding and most importantly, equal society.
Many of you would have tuned out by now because you can't see what all of this means for you, but this week is the perfect opportunity for each and every one of us to learn about the building blocks of our country and about the incredible culture of the custodians of this land. It's our time to show we all stand together and to recognise our connection to each other.
There are many ways you can get involved this week. Perhaps take a few minutes out of your day to research indigenous historical figures such as Mabo and Bennelong who have played a massive role in Australia's development. There are some events around Sydney such as the Bennelong light display in Sydney during vivid as well as the rooftop projection at the National Maritime Museum, inspired by the work of Eddie Mabos daughter, Gail.
So be sure to get the most you can out of such a significant week!
Divinia Eather (Year 10- 2017)