Reconciliation Day

Last Monday we celebrated Reconciliation Day in the ACT, and we held our Reconciliation Day Assembly in the Senior School. I feel it is essential to consider the significance of this day and what we can do as a School community to ensure that reconciliation is an ongoing focus and not just an additional holiday.

In 2018 the ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to have a Reconciliation Day marked by a public holiday. This day marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and is the start of National Reconciliation Week across Australia. The referendum approved two amendments to the Australian Constitution, which relate directly to Indigenous Australians. The amendments changed two sections, which included Aboriginal Australians in determinations of the population, recognising them in the census and empowered the Federal Parliament to legislate specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The aim of reconciliation is to continue to move toward a just, equitable and reconciled country. Reconciliation Australia suggest 20 actions for reconciliation, of which I will share a few. These are actions we can take to raise the profile Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and acknowledge and respect their rightful place in everyday life here in Australia.

  1. Call out racism. It is not OK to allow friends and family to denigrate others because of their race. The only way this can be stopped is if we all stand up and have the tough conversations when they are needed. Casual, unintended and indirect racism needs to be met head-on if we are to stop racism.
  2. Acknowledge all of our history. Australia has the longest continuous culture on the planet. The first Aboriginal genome sequencing suggests that First Australians left Africa 75,000 years ago. This action encourages us to seek knowledge of our local area and the pre-European history of the places we call home.
  3. Support First Nations businesses. Learn about the impact of cultural appropriation and always check that those who market themselves as Indigenous-owned are as they claim. Consider adding pieces of Indigenous art and artefacts to your office or home, recognising their uniqueness and the prominence these items should take in Australia.
  4. Aim for diversity in the workplace. One of the greatest qualities of living in Australia is the diversity of its population and the richness this brings to us all.
  5. Act to protect First Nations cultures. Knowing and recognising culture influences the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and creates the framework for change. We need to ensure that our young people are educated to understand and respect Indigenous protocols, acknowledging the traditions and customs of our First Peoples.

These are a few actions for reconciliation, and an expanded list is available here. At CGGS, we are on a journey ourselves and have an Indigenous Focus Group to assist in raising the profile and the understanding of the culture and contributions of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In addition, each of our curriculum areas seeks to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in their programmes from Years 7 to 10, as a part of the Australian Curriculum. Together we can change the narrative toward a better understanding of our rich history.

Ms Joanna Leaman
Acting Deputy Principal (Head of Senior School)