Advocacy in Action - National Reconciliation Week


National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is an important part of the Committee’s reconciliation journey, as we increase awareness and understanding of our important and shared history with the Traditional Owners of this land, the Noongar people. Between 27 May and 3 June each year, Australians take part in a number of events to commemorate two major milestones in our shared history, the 1967 referendum and the 1992 Mabo decision.

Before the 1967 referendum, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not recognised in our Census and were not granted the right to vote in state elections, own property, be a legal guardian of their own children and receive equal pay. In the 1967 referendum, more than 90% of Australians voted yes to grant equality for all.

The 1992 Mabo decision was a legal case which recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Traditional Owners of the land which we share today. The Mabo case led to the Native Title Act 1993, an important piece of legislation that allows native title claimants the ability to apply to the Federal Court to have this recognised by Australian law. This legislation is having a lasting impact, with the South West Native Title Settlement earmarked for commencement in 2019, which recognises 30,000 Noongar people as the traditional owners of the South West of Western Australia, a land area covering 200,000 square kilometres[1].

Celebrating these two important milestones this week, the Committee kicked off by attending the launch of the 2018 Street Banner Project at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, hosted by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. Each year, the Committee sponsors a banner that is exhibited throughout the CBD as part of raising awareness for NRW.

Later today, all Committee for Perth staff will join with Reconciliation WA and local Whadjuk members for the 2018 Walk for Reconciliation, which kicks off at Elizabeth Quay. During this event, the role of Truth and Historical Acceptance will be explored to further reconciliation within our community.

Lastly, the Committee will be hosting our own NRW event in-house this afternoon, which will feature a screening of the documentary In My Own Words. Discussion will follow around the central theme of increasing literacy rates amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the benefits of community led programs.

These activities form a key part of our commitment to reconciliation, which is detailed in our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2018. This year, the Committee commenced a process to update this for 2019-2021. Our Research Officer, Georgia Harford-Mills, can be contacted at to provide assistance to our members looking to further their own commitments to reconciliation. In addition, we have a number of resources on our website to further reconciliation in our community. 

[1] Government of Western Australia, 2018, South West Native Title Settlement. Available here

Other articles from Insight, June 2018 (view email newsletter):