On Friday, 29 May, all of the Cranebrook community, and the local service providers were invited to join Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services in celebrating Reconciliation Week – bringing awareness of Reconciliation Week and what it means to us.
Reconciliation Week is between 27 May and 3 June, which commemorate two significant milestones.
27 May marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum that saw over 90% of people vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and recognise them in the national census. On 3 June 1992, the High Court of Australia delivered its land mark Mabo decision which recognised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land. This decision paved a way for land rights.
It is important that this story is told so that people understand the reasoning behind the celebration of Reconciliation Week and its importance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services’ event was held at Koolyangarra Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, and was a jam-packed couple of hours, attended by more than 60 people including local service providers.
In addition to a delicious BBQ lunch, Aunty Carol Cooper spoke the Welcome to Country as beautifully as ever, and guests were invited to have their handprints sprayed onto the Reconciliation Week banner.
But the highlight of our event was our NCNS Youth Team Leader, Nerida Silver, speaking about the upcoming Referendum on Constitutional Recognition:
“Despite many years of progress in the understanding and respect between Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians, our founding document, the Constitution, does not recognise the unique contribution of the First Australians to our nation. Currently, there is a campaign to “Recognise” Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution and there will be a Referendum (probably before the next Federal Election) where all Australians will be asked to vote yes or no. Historically it is quite difficult to achieve a yes vote in a referendum. Only eight out of 44 referendums have been successful. Having said that, the latest polls say that 75% of all Australians would vote yes if a referendum was held now which is fantastic!”
Nerida also spoke about the Western Australian community closures:
“Both the Federal Government and the WA Government will not provide power, water and management of infrastructure in remote communities past June 2016. They intend on closing up to 150 remote communities. The closing of these communities is unacceptable and will have far reaching and long term negative consequences. I’d just like to read you a few quotes:
Professor Patrick Dodson said closing down communities would: “be disastrous, increasing access to drugs and alcohol and exacerbating social tensions, which would flow on to antisocial behaviour and incarceration. The immediate consequences would be to create an internal refugee problem for Indigenous people”. He also said that breaking connection to land “would threaten the survival of Aboriginal knowledge and culture, because in towns people were restricted from camping, lighting fires, hunting and fishing”.
Even Premier Barnett of WA acknowledged that closing communities would: “cause great distress to Aboriginal people who will move, it will cause issues in regional towns as Aboriginal people move into them”.
As I said the closing of communities anywhere in Australia is unacceptable….it’s not so dissimilar to past Government policies of removing Aboriginal people from their homelands.”
It is important that our greater community understands the implications of these important issues and continues the conversation. If you would like further information, please follow these links: