It’s Reconciliation Week in Australia. A week that forgets one important occasion and honours two others in disappointing and tokenistic ways.
It’s Reconciliation week once again and as in previous years, events are mainly being attended by Indigenous people. To find a non-Indigenous person at these events because of their own personal commitment to reconciliation is very rare. This isn’t helped by the governments lack of true leadership towards reconciliation either. How can we expect non-Indigenous people to give up their work or study time when there is no national holiday for the Australian public to stop, come together, remember and learn. How can the government be serious about reconciliation without a true national day to do so?
According to the government’s reconciliation website, Reconciliation Week honours two very important occasions in Australian history, the 1967 Referendum (27th May) & Mabo Day (June 3rd). However Reconciliation Week doesn’t officially include National Sorry Day (May 26), that falls only one day before the 1967 referendum anniversary. Interestingly this years Reconciliation Week theme is “Don’t keep history a mystery. Learn, share & grow”. Why hasn’t Reconciliation Week been able to grow to include what is arguably the most important of these three dates?
Around Australia, schools use Reconciliation Week as a chance (sometimes the only chance) to teach Indigenous history, but doesn’t the absence of National Sorry Day from Reconciliation Week go against the theme of not keeping history a mystery?
With true understanding and respect, National Sorry Day has the potential to be a real driving force for true reconciliation in Australia. This day could become similar to ANZAC Day. With a National public holiday, the nation could stop to remember not only the stolen generations but also the many other crimes and injustices which have occurred in Australia since 1770. With greater education and respect, can you imagine the possibilities of what might come next?
Or does the government fear what might come next?