National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories. So, what is the significance of this year’s theme and how can we ‘Be a Voice for Generations?’
National Reconciliation Week serves as an opportunity for Australians across the nation to delve into our interconnected pasts, cultures, and accomplishments. It encourages introspection on how each individual can actively contribute to fostering reconciliation within Australia.
NRW takes place on the same dates annually, spanning from the 27th of May to the 3rd of June.
These dates hold profound significance, as they commemorate two pivotal milestones in the journey towards reconciliation: the momentous 1967 referendum and the consequential High Court Mabo decision.
27 May 1967 – On this day, Australia’s most successful referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the Census.
3 June 1992 – This year marks the 30-year anniversary of when the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision, the culmination of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one) and leading to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands. This decision paved the way for Native Title.
The National Reconciliation Week 2023 theme is “Be a Voice for Generations”.
Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the theme calls on Australians to honour the work of generations past who fought for justice in Australia and to work together today to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation for the generations to come.
“There has long been a strong thread in Australian history of people striving to build a just society,” she said.
“Australian history has included many examples of non-First Nations Australians who stood with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during early strikes, protests and notably during the 1967 referendum.
“Australia has a long record of inspiring allyship and solidarity to address centuries of racism and injustice.
“This National Reconciliation Week we urge all Australians to follow in this tradition to ‘Be a voice for generations’, while also imagining a better country for future generations,” she said.
Ms Mundine said this year’s theme urges all Australians to use their power, their words and their vote to create a better, more just Australia for all of us.
“Reconciliation is about building a better nation; a more united Australia that respects and takes pride in 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, stories and achievements; an Australia that believes in the right of First Nations peoples to make decisions about our lives and our communities; and an Australia that stands opposed to racism, inequity and injustice,” she said.
“I urge all Australians to join me in participating in activities this National Reconciliation Week and to raise our voices for the future.”