Reconciliation: Taking the next steps: Talking Together

National Reconciliation Week runs from Saturday 27 May –  Saturday 3 June, and is marked by two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: the 1967 Referendum and the historic Mabo decision. 2017 marks 50 years since the ‘67 referendum, and 25 years since the Mabo decision. Shepparton Interfaith Network will mark National Reconciliation Week with a luncheon-discussion over “Let’s Take the Next Step” at the Connection on Friday, 2nd June.


This National Reconciliation Week (NRW), we reflect on two significant anniversaries in our nation’s reconciliation journey — 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the historic Mabo decision. As we commemorate these significant milestones, we ask all Australians to be a part celebrate National Reconciliation Week by taking the next steps.

Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates and builds on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. It is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation journey.

National Reconciliation Week is held from 27 May to 3 June each year. Preceded by National Sorry Day on 26 May, National Reconciliation Week is marked by two key events in Australia’s history, which provide strong symbols for reconciliation:

  • 27 May 1967 – the referendum that saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Australian Government power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census.
  • 3 June 1992 – the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision, which recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a special relationship with the land. This paved the way for land rights or Native Title.

We are a nation in unfolding self-understanding. As time cycles forward, more self-understandings unfold in the public identity of what it means to be Australian. The historian Manning Clarke once described Australia as “The Kingdom of Nothingness” and captured a metaphor of the young Australian, without inwardness nor purpose, lying on Bondi Beach sunbaking while others were being industrious and purposeful with their lives. (cfr. A Short History of Australia)

This is not the Australia we live in today; we are no longer The Lucky Country (although many believe this to be so), but rather a country caught up in the robotic and electronic revolution which is taking away jobs, security, and achieving the Australian Dream. We are in change, and what it means to be Australian is also in change.

The Never Never

Some things have not changed. The indigenous people tell us “We belong to the Land”, “We must take care of the Land”, “We must nurture our traditions and Law, and teach them to the younger generation”. In Shepparton, we have the Dungala Kaiela Oration each year, where a respected speaker (last year it was Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) highlighting one or another dimension of indigenous progress in our nation, and on Yorta Yorta Country.

The Shepparton Interfaith Network believes that change will continue and conversations with our indigenous brothers and sisters, and respectful listening – perhaps deep listening like Daddiri – is the way forward. Together, we begin to understand what it means to be Australians, moving forward as One Nation.

To illustrate how change comes about, let us look at a recognisable symbol: The Opera House. The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most recognisable building and is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement. Since its completion in 1973 it has attracted worldwide acclaim for its design and construction, enhanced by its location on Bennelong Point within a superb harbour setting.


By Adam.J.W.C.Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

This setting has changed repeatedly as new technology allows us to use the exterior of the Opera House itself as an artifact which communicates a message, celebrates an event (like New Year’s Eve) and marks a national occasion (lit up with Poppies for Remembrance Day), and sends wishes (lit up with the Olympic Logo as a well-wisher message to Australian Olympic Team). And now, the Sydney Opera House is lit up at night for the next three weeks to mark a festival:



Vivid Festival:The annual lights, music and ideas festival began at 6pm on Friday with the illumination of the Sydney Opera House, transfixing viewers with a futuristic light and music display featuring imaginary sea creatures lurking deep in the harbour and shimmering plant life.

Just as we acquire new understandings and new uses for national icons, so also, as Australians, we can have new conversations and meanings about the indigenous journey towards Reconciliation. Please join our conversation – in partnership with Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group – next Friday at The Connection in “taking the next steps”.

Shepparton Region Reconciliation Group in conjunction with the Shepparton Interfaith Network invite you to National Reconciliation Week 2017 talks at

Event Details:

Program: ‘Let’s Take the Next Steps’
When: 12.30pm Friday June 2 ~ Light Lunch provided
Where: The Connection The Causeway (7287 Midland Hwy) Between Shepparton and Mooroopna
RSVP: By Thursday June 1 Phone: Dierdre 5821 6600
Enquiries: Bobby 0434 279 653 | Dierdre 5821 6600



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