Reconciliation Week 2018: Don’t Keep History a Mystery

03 Jun 18

During National Reconciliation Week, Caritas Australia reflected on Australian history, and also celebrated the innovation and leadership of our First Australian partners.

A traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony kicked the week off at Caritas’s National Office and was performed by celebrated Aboriginal entertainer Gumaroy Newman. Gumaroy, through story-telling and a musical performance, recalled the hardship and trauma faced by First Australians, and celebrated the progress made in indigenous rights so far. Gumaroy also challenged Caritas Australia staff - and all Australians - to play their part in working together towards a truly reconciled Australia. Lasting Reconciliation requires all Australians to educate themselves about the truths of our national history so that the burden to educate the nation doesn't continually fall upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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Gumaroy Newman speaking during this year's smoking ceremony. Photo credit: Daniel Nour, Caritas Australia

Gumaroy Newman speaking during this year's smoking ceremony. Photo credit: Daniel Nour, Caritas Australia

During the week, our Reconciliation Action Plan group also shared resources with staff that delved further into our country's history and the ongoing struggle for justice among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The group also organised a welcome to country and flag raising ceremony, as well as a lunchtime screening of the 2018 ANU Reconciliation Lecture.

Caritas Australia has had long-standing history with many First Australian communities, with initial programs beginning in 1972. More recently, we worked alongside our First Australian Partners Organisations to develop the Joint Statement on Subsidiarity, which highlights the importance of First Australians having control over the important decisions that affect them.

We followed up the Joint Statement last year with a reflective video and webpage, put together with support from our First Australian Partners and Mumbulla Creative - an Indigenous Design Company based in Sydney. The reflection invites all Australians to consider our history from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the webpage links to resources that can help you get started learning more.

Caritas Australia also recently seconded an ACFID resolution to support the Uluru Statement for The Heart calling for Makarrata (coming together after a struggle), through truth-telling, a national representative voice for First Australians , justice, healing and the long unfulfilled promise of Treaty making. Caritas feels strongly that the Australian Government’s dismissal of the Uluru Statement – which represented the culmination of years of consultation – was premature and very disappointing.

Caritas Australia strongly believes that learning our history is the first step for a reconciled country, where First Australians are treated with the dignity they deserve and afforded their rights as the first peoples and traditional owners of the land.

Learn more about the Caritas Australia First Australians Program