Companioning our Indigenous Neighbour
'I know you think you should make a trip to Calcutta, but I strongly advise you to save your airfare and spend it on the poor in your own country. Its easy to love people far away. Its not always easy to love those who live right next to us.'Mother Theresa
National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week provides the Australian community with an opportunity to consider how we might love those right next to us".........
May 26 is National Sorry Day and May 27 - 3 June is National Reconciliation Week 2007
A united Australia which respects this land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all. Vision statement of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation
National Reconciliation Week (NRW), which was first celebrated in 1996, aims to give people across Australia the opportunity to focus on reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. It is a time to 'reflect on achievements so far and on what must still be done to achieve reconciliation'
This year, NRW marks the 40th anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw more than 90% of eligible Australians vote YES to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the national census of the population and to give the Commonwealth Government power to make specific laws in respect of Indigenous people. This event is often referred to as the first stage of the reconciliation movement in Australia.
National Reconciliation Week falls between two significant dates in the relations between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians: 27 May is the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and 3 June is the date the High Court of Australia handed down its judgement on the Mabo case. Eddie Mabo was from Mer, one of the Murray Islands off the coast of Northern Australia. He argued in the High Court that Murray Islanders' rights to their land were not extinguished by the annexation of the islands by the State of Queensland, or by subsequent Queensland or federal governments' legislation. The High Court agreed with this view and the idea of 'terra nullius' - that Australia had been empty of people when settled by the British - was abandoned and the pre-existing rights of indigenous Australians acknowledged.
Each year National Reconciliation Week has a different theme. The theme of National Reconciliation Week for 2007 is The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2007 is Their spirit still shines. This theme reflects the respect and honour we accord to those Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who worked together to bring about the 1967 Referendum. It affirms that Australians continue to be fired by their spirit and remain committed to building a just and equitable society.
A Time to Reflect
National Reconciliation Week offers people across Australia the opportunity to focus on reconciliation, to hear about the culture and history of Australia's Indigenous people, and to explore new and better ways of meeting challenges in our communities. NRW is a time for us to renew our commitment to reconciliation and to think about how we can help turn around the continuing disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
To find out more about National Reconciliation Week, visit www.reconciliation.org.au