Reconciliation Week

Published May 27, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land.  I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past, and present, and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians.

From 27th May – 3 Jun we celebrate National Reconciliation Week , this year’s theme “Let’s Talk Recognition”, it is about proper recognition of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In the history of modern Australia our first peoples of occupied a position on the margins of society aliens in their own lands. This is the story of a resilient people whose custom and lore disrupted over generations through waves of violence, persecution and subjugation whose living culture survives.

In 1991, the Commonwealth Parliament voted unanimously to establish the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a formal reconciliation process. Parliament had noted that there had been no formal process of reconciliation and that it was “most desirable that there be such a reconciliation” by the year 2001, marking the centenary of Federation.  This process took place its success seems a matter for history, what it did do was give oxygen to a conversation around the injustice experienced by our first peoples at the hands of successive governments. Sadly, with the election of Howard this process lost all but token political support being bastardised by the re-authoring of history many conservatives engage in.

Then on February 13, 2008, Kevin Rudd, as the 26th Prime Minister of Australia rose in his place and moved the National Apology to the Stolen Generations motion. A moment many had waited a whole lifetime to hear their pain publicly acknowledged and validate. However, subsequently, little has progressed the issue of recognition has seemingly lost political impetus once more overshadowed by an extension of Howard era paternalism and protectionism. This journey towards reconciliation along a corrugated red track stained with the tears, fears and blood of generations continues towards home.

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