It’s time for one of the most important weeks in our academic, personal and professional calendars here in Australia: National Reconciliation Week (NRW).
The theme for this year is Be Brave. Make Change – it’s a call to action and a challenge for all Australians to Be Brave as we continue to tackle the ongoing need for reconciliation so we can Make Change that sees everyone in our communities feeling safe, respected, valued and heard.
It’s a great theme that can be acted on in so many ways in our daily lives.
Quick Recap: What is National Reconciliation Week?
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements and explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
2022 is a significant year for NRW, marking three key national anniversaries of brave actions:
- 50 years ago: In January 1972, a group of brave young men began the longest protest for Indigenous land rights and sovereignty by planting a beach umbrella and signage proclaiming Aboriginal Embassy across the road from the then Parliament House in Canberra.
- 30 years ago: In May 1992, the Torres Strait Islander Flag was officially presented to the people of the Torres Strait Islands at the sixth Torres Strait Cultural Festival. In June 1992, the ten-year fight of a group of Torres Strait Islanders, led by Eddie Mabo, over ownership of Mer (Murray Island) resulted in a High Court decision that recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to land that existed before the British arrived and still exist today.
- 25 years ago: In April 1997, the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families was released, a testament to the bravery of thousands who told of the impact of forcible removal from their families, cultures and communities.
As we enter NRW 2022, we should all remember that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds, and actions as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Join the National Acknowledgement of Country 2022
One of the reasons many people don’t engage in reconciliation is fear.
It’s normal to feel worried about causing offence or ‘saying the wrong thing’ – but we shouldn’t let that fear stop us from pursuing education, teaching ourselves about the history of Australia, and taking part in brave actions that will help further create the better communities we all want to be a part of.
This year, you can start reconciliation week on a brave note by taking part in the National Acknowledgement of Country.
Reconciliation Australia is asking everyone across Australia to launch NRW 2022 by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the Country in which we live, work, and learn.
The practice of Acknowledging the Traditional Owners of Country is an essential part of ongoing reconciliation. When done respectfully and appropriately, it helps raise awareness of the cultures, history and sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People nationally.
Acknowledgement of Country FAQ
Reconciliation Australia has put together a great Facebook page to help everyone participate as NRW launches this year, but we know a few of you might have a few questions.
We’ve put together this handy FAQ (with guidance from Reconciliation Australia) to help you get involved:
- Why should you practice Acknowledgement of Country? Acknowledging Country is a clear demonstration you accept and understand that – no matter where you are in Australia – you are on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land. This land will always belong to and be connected to these people.
- Who should give Acknowledgement of Country? Anyone can practice Acknowledgement of Country – it can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In some cases and for some events, people prefer to have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Person provide the Acknowledgement.
- What should you say? Reconciliation Australia suggests the following wording: “This National Reconciliation Week, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Land on which I stand. I acknowledge the (people) of the (nation) and pay my respects to Elders past and present.”
- How can you Acknowledge Country at school? You can create posters, drawings or signs to put up in classrooms and shared spaces to Acknowledge the Country and Traditional Owners of the land your school is on. If your school has social media channels, you could ask teachers and staff to create messages and videos to share online – remember to use the hashtags for NRW: #BeBraveMakeChange #NRW2022.
- Where can you find out the Traditional Owners of the land you’re on? Resources like the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia are a helpful starting point to help discover this information – remember to explore the Traditional owners, names of places and country, and use these in your Acknowledgements and going forward.
When is the National Acknowledgement of Country Happening?
Reconciliation Australia has set the time for 12 pm (AEST) on Friday the 27th of May 2022 for the National Acknowledgement and to officially launch NRW 2022. So, no matter where you are, take a moment to take part and encourage everyone you’re with to do the same.
In the next few days, we’ll be sharing more help on how to act on the theme Be Brave. Make Change, but in the meantime, you can find excellent resources and further information on the Reconciliation Australia website.