National Reconciliation Week is held between the 27th of May and the 3rd of June to celebrate indigenous culture and to advance the cause of reconciliation.
These dates were chosen to coincide with the 1967 Referendum, which removed discriminatory clauses from the Australian Constitution and the anniversary of the Mabo decision which was declared on the 3rd of June 1992. The Mabo decision was decided by the High Court of Australia and reversed the concept of terra nullius hence recognising that indigenous Australians had a system of law prior to European settlement.
This morning I had the honour of being able to officiate Maroondah’s Reconciliation Week event which was held at Maroondah Federation Estate.
This year Maroondah organised a series of workshops providing school students and the community with the opportunity to learn about indigenous culture, including storytelling, basket coiling, art and dance.
The theme for Reconciliation Week 2009 is Reconciliation: Turning Words into Action and this was displayed in the foyer of the Maroondah Art Gallery through collaborative artwork undertaken by students from the Monkami Centre and Kalinda Primary School in conjunction with indigenous artists.
This theme is further reinforced through the launch of Maroondah’s Reconciliation Policy, which focuses on partnerships and council initiatives to improve equity for Indigenous Australians.
A traditional smoking ceremony, which cleanses the presence of bad spirits, accompanied the Welcome to Country and the event concluded with a performance by the internationally renowned One Fire Aboriginal Dance Troupe.
Please continue reading to view a copy of the speech delivered for Maroondah’s 2009 Reconciliation Week proceedings.
Maroondah City Council, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledges that we are meeting on the land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Reconciliation Week celebrations here at Maroondah Federation Estate. It is wonderful to see so many people making a commitment to learning about the reconciliation process and fostering understanding within our community.
On behalf of Maroondah City Council I would like to welcome:
- Uncle Tony Garvey-Wandin a Wurundjeri/Wandoon Elder who also conducted this morning’s smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country
- Aunty Dot Peters, Uncle Ian Hunter and Uncle Larry Walsh who are the elders here today conducting the workshops
- Safina Fergie, an indigenous local artist who will also be conducting workshops during today
- David Hodgett, Member for Kilsyth
National Reconciliation Week is now in its 14th year and 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.
National Reconciliation Week coincides with two significant dates in Australia’s history which provide strong symbols of our hopes and aims for reconciliation.
May 27 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which more than 90 percent of Australians voted to remove clauses from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Indigenous Australians. The Referendum also gave the Commonwealth Government the power to make laws on behalf of indigenous people and counted Indigenous Australians as part of Australia’s population.
June 3 marks the anniversary of the High Court of Australia’s judgement in 1992 in the Mabo case. The decision recognised the Native Title rights of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and overturned the myth of terra nullius – that the continent was empty, unowned land before the arrival of Europeans in 1788.
Reconciliation is an ongoing process within our community continuing through to today and beyond. I was in grade six when the Mabo Case was decided and when native title and the pre-existing laws of Indigenous Australians were finally recognised by this country.
Reconciliation week’s theme for 2009 is Reconciliation: Turning Words into Action, calling on all Victorians to reflect on the recent National Apology to the Stolen Generations and what this has meant to advancing reconciliation in Victoria.
Maroondah City Council is committed to maintaining a culturally diverse, understanding and open society and today I would like to take the opportunity to officially launch Maroondah City Council’s Reconciliation Policy Statement.
This policy reaffirms Council’s commitment to the important process of reconciliation and the desire to build strong partnerships with the local Indigenous community. The Policy outlines four key areas of commitment and identifies strategies to assist in achieving our vision.
Representatives from various agencies within the eastern region were key components in the development of this policy. I would like to thank the following people and their organisations for their contribution towards Council’s Reconciliation Policy:
- Debra Cocks, Outer East Primary Care Partnership;
- Roseanne Hepburn, formerly from the Department of Human Services;
- Jill Faulkner, Eastern Access Community Health;
- Janet Baschinar, Maroondah Movement for Reconciliation;
- Anne Longridge, Learning and Reconciliation Maroondah;
- David Farrell, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place;
- Anne Jenkins, Swinburne TAFE;
- Jo-Anne Taylor, former Councillor;
- Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin, Wurundjeri/Wandoon Elder;
- Megan Goulding, Wurundjeri Tribal Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council
- Officers from various service areas within Council
I invite you all to take a copy and read through the document.
This policy enables council to turn the words identified within the document into action and improve equity for Indigenous Australians and foster understanding within our community.
It is now my pleasure to introduce an inspiring group of indigenous artists who have performed throughout Victoria, interstate and internationally. They dance in the spirit of reconciliation and harmony and they are celebrating with us here today.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girl please welcome The One Fire Aboriginal Dance Troupe!