Katrina

DISPLAYING POSTS BY: Katrina (4)

Katrina

Katrina works at the Melbourne and Immigration Museum Discovery Centres. She is also studying a Master of Arts and Cultural Management, with a particular interest in material culture and contemporary Indigenous Australian art.

Reconciliation Week

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by Katrina
Publish date
28 May 2012
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National Reconciliation Week runs annually from 27 May to 3 June, marking the anniversaries of two major events that paved the way for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights.

Poster for National Reconciliation Week 2102. Poster for National Reconciliation Week 2102, featuring chefs Stephanie Alexander and Mark Olive.
Source: National Reconciliation Week
 

On 27 May 1967, a Federal referendum gave the Australian population the opportunity to change two key sections within the Australian constitution. The first change ensured that Australia's First People would no longer be excluded from the national census. The second change gave the federal government the power to determine the future for Aboriginal people, taking the power away from individual states and territories.

Overwhelming support for the initiative saw over 90 per cent of the population voting to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the census. However, the changes to the constitution did not grant Aboriginal people the right to vote, as has commonly been stated. Aboriginal people became Australian citizens in 1949, along with the rest of the Australian population, all of whom had previously been British subjects. Aboriginal people had the right to vote prior to 1949, however with citizenship granted in that year their right was confirmed.

The second event occurred on 3 June 1992, when the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision. The Mabo decision famously rejected the doctrine of terra nullius, therefore recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always had a special relationship with the land. This essentially progressed into land rights known today as native title.

The annual celebration of National Reconciliation Week frames these major events and provides a time for all Australian people to reflect on the past, present and future. It celebrates and builds on the positive relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, encouraging all Australians to explore ways that they can contribute to the national reconciliation effort.

This year's theme Let's Talk Recognition examines the next steps to properly recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only for their cultural longevity and resilience, but also for their ongoing and consistent contribution to Australia's national identity. Events such as National Reconciliation Week allow the journey towards reconciliation to continue and strengthen.

The National Reconciliation Week website lists a variety of events that you can attend. What will you do this week to show your support for reconciliation?

Links:

MV Blog: From Little Things

National Sorry Day

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by Katrina
Publish date
27 May 2012
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Your Question: What does National Sorry Day commemorate?

From the late 1800s up to the early 1970s, the Australian government implemented the systematic removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families through a range of assimilation and 'protection policies'. In Victoria, for example, the Aborigines Protection Act 1869 had the broad powers to make laws for 'the care, custody and education of the children of Aborigines'. However these policies were solely based on the premise of race, with the aim to absorb or assimilate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of mixed descent into the non-Aboriginal community. Not only did these policies have lasting affects on families and community, but they were also active in suppressing Aboriginal languages and culture. Today, the people affected by the government removal policies are remembered as the Stolen Generations.

Australian Human Rights Commissions Bringing them Home Report 1997 Australian Human Rights Commission's Bringing them Home report, 1997.
Image: Cover Photo: Heide Smith, ‘Story Time’
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission
 

In 1997 the Howard Government released the Bringing them Home report as a recognition and tribute to the many families affected by forced removal. The main finding of the report was that 'between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and communities in the period from approximately 1910 to 1970'. The report recommended that the first step in healing is the acknowledgement of truth and the delivery of an official apology, which was provided by Kevin Rudd in 2008.

Another recommendation was that a National Sorry Day should be declared. National Sorry Day was first held on 26 May, 1998; exactly one year after the Bringing them Home report had been published. It encourages Australian society to acknowledge the impact of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is still felt by families and communities today. This annual event is marked with marches, speeches and presentations being held throughout the country, all of which aim to highlight the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and a commitment to reconciliation.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links

National Sorry Day Committee

Reconciliation Australia

Share Our Pride

Australian Human Rights Commission

Beyond Bunjilaka

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by Katrina
Publish date
9 April 2012
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Your Question: Now that the Jumbunna exhibition space in Bunjilaka has closed, what Aboriginal cultural experiences can I have?

The exhibition space 'Jumbunna', part of the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum has closed for an exciting redevelopment of the space.

Former exhibitions in Jumbunna include Koori Voices, Belonging to Country and Two Laws. The redevelopment will see a stronger focus on the vibrant and living Victorian Aboriginal culture and will provide dynamic and contemporary experiences as well as showcasing items from the incredible Aboriginal cultural material collection held in trust by Museum Victoria. The gallery will remain closed for redevelopment until mid-2013; however, Bunjilaka remains open, hosting a range of Aboriginal experiences.

Birrarung Birrarung
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Birrarung Gallery, located in the Bunjilaka, is a space dedicated to Victorian Aboriginal artists and is where you can experience some of the best Aboriginal artists in Australia, showcasing their culture and talent through various art forms, from painting and photography to 3D installation and audio visual. This space has three exhibitions a year and is currently exhibiting River Woman by Aunty Barb Egan, which explores her connection to her home of Robinvale, in the northwest of Victoria, and to the Murray River through a series of lino prints, embossing and painting.

‘River Woman’ exhibition in Birrarung River Woman exhibition in Birrarung
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Aunty Barb Aunty Barb
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Bunjilaka also has an indigenous plant garden called Milarri. This will remain open for visitors to learn about the natural resources important to Aboriginal people of southeastern Australia and about their traditional uses. Melbourne Museum's Forest Gallery, also displaying indigenous plants and animals, is another space where you can learn creation stories of Melbourne and about the seasons of the Kulin calendar, traditionally used by the Aboriginal people of Melbourne and surrounds.

Aunty Barb in her studio Aunty Barb in her studio
Image: Kimberley Moulton
Source: Museum Victoria

The Koori Voices exhibition is currently being de-installed and will be re-installed within the museum for visitors to experience by July 2012. Bunjilaka's weekend and holiday programs will be run throughout the year and can be viewed on the Melbourne Museum and Bunjilaka websites.

The education sessions 'Our Shared History' is still available and can be booked through the museum booking office. Our Shared History is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history and diversity of Australia's Aboriginal cultures, with a strong focus on Victoria and southeastern Australia. Learn about Victoria's 38 language groups, Aboriginal usage of both indigenous flora and fauna, and many other facets of Victoria's vibrant Aboriginal cultures.

From April 21 through to June 24, Bunjilaka will be hosting a fun weekend activity for children called 'Bunjil's Bullroarers'. Children and their families will have an opportunity to learn about, make and decorate their very own bullroarer. The bullroarer is a traditional musical instrument used by Aboriginal people for communication and ceremonial purposes.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links

River Woman exhibition

Australia Day

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by Katrina
Publish date
26 January 2012
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Your Question: What is the history of our national holiday?

The tradition of celebrating Australia Day as a national public holiday was established in Australia's first colony, Sydney, and has persevered since the early nineteenth century.

Medal - Australia's 150th Anniversary, 1938: Raising the British flag at Sydney Cove after the landing by Captain Arthur Phillip, January 26, 1788. Medal - Australia's 150th Anniversary, 1938: Raising the British flag at Sydney Cove after the landing by Captain Arthur Phillip, January 26, 1788.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Sydney almanacs originally referred to it as First Landing Day or Foundation Day, in celebration of the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip in Sydney on January 26, 1788. It was not until the thirtieth anniversary of European settlement, in 1818, that Governor Lachlan Macquarie officially created a public holiday in New South Wales. During this time other newly founded colonies were also celebrating their own beginnings, through sporting events, picnics and anniversary dinners.

Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne, 1916: the car in the foreground won first prize for the most decorated car. Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne, 1916: the car in the foreground won first prize for the most decorated car.
Image: Mrs C.M. Chisholm
Source: Museum Victoria
 

January 26 in 1888 marked the centenary of European settlement, however attitudes towards the celebration were mixed. The date was primarily associated with New South Wales rather than all the colonies. Nevertheless, the celebrations across Australia assisted to create a greater sense of cohesion between the separate colonies as they attempted to forget Australia's 'convict stain' and focus on the future. From the 1880s this was signified with a movement towards a national holiday, perhaps made easier by the achievement of Federation in 1901. However it was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories used the name 'Australia Day' to mark the date.

Badge – South Australia Public Service Australia Day, 26 July 1918. Badge – South Australia Public Service Australia Day, 26 July 1918.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

For Indigenous Australians, for whom the date represented invasion and an irrevocable impact upon their culture, land and population, there was no cause for celebration. During the sesquicentenary events in 1938, approximately 100 Aboriginal protesters gathered in Sydney to present a different view of the celebrations. For the protestors and those represented, Australia Day was instead 'a day of mourning', highlighting the loss of life, land and language that was a cause of the European occupation of Australia.

Badge – ‘White Australia has a Black History,’ Australia, 1988 Badge – ‘White Australia has a Black History,’ Australia, 1988
Image: Heath Warwick (photographer)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The protest demanded new laws that would ensure equality for Aboriginal people in the wider Australian community, such as citizenship rights. From this time, new voices were arising to question the celebratory status of Australia Day. This gained impetus during the 1988 Bicentenary with numerous protests staged across Australia including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people declaring Australia Day a commemoration rather than a celebration of Australia's history.

Bicentenary display, <i>Window’s on Victoria</i> exhibition, Melbourne Museum, 2000-2007. Bicentenary display, Windows on Victoria exhibition, Melbourne Museum, 2000-2007.
Image: Benjamin Heally
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Material objects, such as badges, coins and t-shirts, have often been disseminated to commemorate Australia Day. Many of these are in Museum Victoria's collection and can be viewed on Collections Online. These items remind us of the different meanings that Australia Day can have for Australia's diverse population. They also provide us with an understanding of the various circumstances leading up to Australia Day's consistent recognition by all States and Territories on January 26 for the first time in 1994, and as we know it today.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Australia Day: History

Australia Day Student Resources: Indigenous Australians

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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