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, 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?
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