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Let’s talk recognition: National Reconciliation Week 2013

Phoebe Yuen

Wed May 22 2013


EVERY nation has a story to tell, about the land and its people, of discrimination, recognition and reconciliation. Phoebe Yuen finds out why the upcoming National Reconciliation Week is so important in Australia, and what you can do to celebrate. 


Between May 27 and June 3, Australians will be celebrating National Reconciliation Week – a significant week that promotes the shared history, culture and achievements made by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Recognised as Australians

 On this date, more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to remove discriminative clauses against Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders recognise the dates of May 27 and June 3 as integral in their journey towards reconciliation in Australia.

Crucial to the recognition of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders was the success of the 1967 referendum which was introduced on May 27. On this date, more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to remove discriminative clauses against Indigenous Australians in the Australian Constitution. As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were justly recognised as Australians.

Below you’ll find the 1967 Referrendum jingle that was played on the radio at the time. It was used to promote Indigenous rights. Accompanying the song in the video are posters that were used to raise awareness at the time.

Meanwhile on June 3, 1992, the High Court of Australia officially declared Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia’s first people by acknowledging the rights the Indigenous Australians had over the lands. This declaration has since been referred to as the Mabo decision, which is in reference to Eddie Mabo, the Aboriginal who fought for Indigenous land rights.

To understand more about the significance of the Mabo decision, ABC News has a video that better explains the legacy of Eddie Mabo and how the Mabo decision affected Indigenous Australians.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Mabo decision and the 46th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. To learn more about these important events, a fact sheet has been provided by Reconciliation Australia.

Celebrating National Reconciliation Week

Although rehearsals for the National Reconciliation Week’s flash mob are now over, you can still catch the flash mob performance on Monday May 27 at 12.30pm at Federation Square. Organised by Flash Mob Melbourne, spectators will be able to witness people dancing to Yothu Yindi’s “Djapana Sunset Dreaming”.

Other events will be held, giving everyone an opportunity to be involved in the ‘journey to reconciliation’, and include a recognition community breakfast, as well as the launch of National Reconciliation Week, where you can catch AFL legend Michael Long along with other high-profile Australians.

As a week of recognition towards Indigenous Australians, there will be plenty of ways for you to be able to show your respect and appreciation for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

National Reconciliation Week 2013 takes place between May 27 and June 3. For the full list of events and activities that will be taking place, head on over to Reconciliation Australia’s official website to find an activity that you would enjoy taking part in.