Why we care about National Reconciliation Week
Why we're sharing this
This time of year marks some important milestones in Australia's reconciliation journey. For Meld, this is an important time of year to reflect on our relationship with Traditional Custodians of the Country on which we live, work and gather.
Today, 26th May, is National Sorry Day and the fourth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Reconciliation Australia, and the beginning of National Reconciliation Week.
In the Meld spirit of openness and genuine intent to help others on their reconciliation journey, we are sharing here some comms we shared internally to support this year's NRW theme of More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.
Why we care about reconciliation
The people of Meld Studios live, work and gather on land traditionally owned by peoples of many First Nations, including the Eora, Kulin, Turrbal, Ngunnawal, and Whadjuk Nations. We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We acknowledge their Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.
We have committed time, people and money to understanding what it means to be in a sovereign relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are committed to reshaping our mindsets, business practices and relationships.
This is a journey and we’re right near the beginning. We are working through our Reflect RAP with Reconciliation Australia. We will explore, try, learn and iterate - as we do in all of our work as a design practice.
What is National Reconciliation Week about?
“National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.”
— Reconciliation Australia
Online and in-person events will occur around Australia to acknowledge, raise awareness, and provide opportunities to engage. Reconciliation Australia has a growing list of events happening across the week. This isn’t the definitive list of things happening, but it is a great start. As you’ll see below, we encourage all Meldsters to participate in an event.
Why is it held across 27 May to 3 Jun?
27 May and 3 June are two big dates in Australia's reconciliation journey:
On 27 May 1967, the Australian Government held a referendum. This was a momentous turning point in Australian history. The 1967 referendum altered the Australian Constitution. More than 90 per cent of Australian voters chose ‘Yes’ to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
On 3 June 1992 the High Court handed down their legal decision in the Mabo and others v Queensland (No 2) case. This decided that terra nullius should not have been applied to Australia. This decision recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to the land – rights that existed before the British arrived and can still exist today.
What about 26 May?
26 May is important day in Australia's reconciliation journey for two reasons:
- National Sorry Day
- Uluru Statement from the Heart.
National Sorry Day is “observed annually on 26 May, National Sorry Day remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, which we now know as ‘The Stolen Generations’.”
On 26 May, 2017, at the conclusion of the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru, council member Megan Davis delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a consensus document on constitutional recognition, developed by a 16-member Referendum Council of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders.
Over a six-month period the council travelled to 12 different locations around Australia and met with over 1,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives. The meetings resulted in a consensus document on constitutional recognition, the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
— Reconciliation Australia
The Uluru Statement proposes three structural reforms to address these challenges:
- A Voice to Parliament that is enshrined in the Constitution
- A Makarrata Commission that would lead a process of: agreement making, or treaties; and truth-telling about our nation’s history.
First Nations in other countries are acknowledged and recognised in national constitutions. This includes Canada, the United States and Norway. First Nations in those countries have used these constitutional clauses to exercise their self-determination and empower Indigenous peoples.
Makarrata is a Yolngu word "describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice", or "a coming together after a struggle", and delegates said that it "captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia".
— Uluru Statement from the Heart
How can Meldsters get involved?
We encourage all Meldsters to embrace this year’s theme and move from awareness into action. This applies to all permanent Meldsters and Meld associates.
Below is a handy list of actions you can take now:
- Read up about National Reconciliation Week, National Sorry Day, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart starting with the links provided above.
- Join our session with Bundyi Girri where we’ll start exploring what it means to have a sovereign relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Write a letter to your MP and senators requesting a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
- Learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples local to you. AIATSIS provides a wonderful map of First Nations; and 50words help us to learn local languages.
- Sign up to one or more events during NRW, and go to it. Use the list of events provided by Reconciliation Australia, or search your local area.
- Welcome to Country is a new and inspiring marketplace for connecting with Country and supporting Indigenous artists/producers.
- Download and use NRW social media banners, posters and colouring activities.
- Tag social posts with #NRW2021
- Ask your clients, colleagues and peers what they're doing for NRW. Share Meld's resources if useful.
- Mention NRW in your Acknowledgement of Country. The information above can help you to find something that's meaningful for you and your audience/clients.
Suggestions for more ways to take action always welcome.