National Reconciliation Week – 27 May to 3 June

In May, we acknowledge two significant events. The first is National Sorry Day on 26 May and the second is National Reconciliation Week from 27 May until 3 June each year.

What is National Sorry Day?

National Sorry Day recognises the negative impact of past Australian policies, practices and attitudes on Indigenous people.

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. The generation of children removed under these policies are known as the Stolen Generations. The policies of child removal left a legacy of trauma and loss that continues to affect Indigenous communities, families and individuals to this day.

National Sorry Day is a day to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations Survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation. While this date carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is also commemorated by Australians around the country. This day gives people the opportunity to come together and share the steps towards healing for the Stolen Generations, their families and communities.

National Sorry Day is the day before National Reconciliation Week. On the path to reconciliation, it is important to acknowledge and raise awareness of the history and continued effects of the Stolen Generation. From this, we are able to build and celebrate the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

What is National Reconciliation Week?

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. This week celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. It is a time to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Reconciliation involves building positive, respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. These relationships form the foundation which enables us to work together to close the gaps, achieve a shared sense of fairness and justice and enhance our national wellbeing.

The dates for National Reconciliation Week remain the same each year and commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey. May 27th marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum when Australians voted to remove clauses in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. June 3rd marks the anniversary of the 1992 High Court Mabo decision in which the High Court of Australia overturned the doctrine of terra nullius (land belonging to no-one). This decision recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights over their lands which existed prior to the establishment of the British Colony and still exist today.

What are key messages?

The theme for National Reconciliation Week this year is “In this together.”

Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia, Karen Mundine, explains that the “ theme reinforces that we all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures. When we come together to build mutual respect and understanding, we shape a better future for all Australians.”

2020 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000.

On May 28, 2000, the walk for Reconciliation occurred across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Around 250,000 people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, made their way across the famous Sydney landmark in a continuous stream that lasted nearly six hours. It was the largest political demonstration ever held in Australia. Following this, people around Australia came together for several smaller walks. They walked on bridges and roads across the nation to show their support for a more reconciled Australia. The walks were a peaceful demonstration that reflected a shift in the public mood and a growing awareness of the importance of reconciliation and a need for a national apology.

We are all “in this together” and we will continue to work together towards a fully reconciled Australia.

How to get involved

Reconciliation Australia have developed 20 ways to be in this together in 2020.

Cook a dish using traditional ingredients

Of the 20 ways to be involved, one of the ideas was to cook a dish using traditional ingredients from your local area and share a photo.

The staff at Diabetes SA have developed a recipe you can try at home which focuses around a well-known traditional ingredient – kangaroo.

This recipe is in line with the nutrition recommendations for someone living with diabetes.

Virtual events

As part of National Reconciliation Week there are a number of public events Australians can attend.

Unfortunately, with the current coronavirus situation these events have been cancelled. In lieu of public events there are several virtual events you can attend.

Here are some suggestions of virtual events you might like to attend:

What's Diabetes SA's role?

As an organisation dedicated to empowering people to live well with diabetes and raise awareness for those at risk of diabetes in South Australia, we understand the impact diabetes has in our Indigenous communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at least four times more likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetes when compared to non-Indigenous Australians.

Diabetes SA recognises the importance of building strong, positive and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is through these relationships that Diabetes SA can educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about diabetes prevention and support those living with diabetes.

Diabetes SA have two dedicated staff who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health professionals. Our staff visit Indigenous communities and health services across South Australia to provide culturally appropriate education and resources on the prevention and management of diabetes.