National Reconciliation Week is coming up at the end of this month. It’s an important time for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people in Australia because two events of significance are remembered in this week.
Saturday May 27 marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum in which more than 90 per cent of Australians voted (in Australia’s most successful referendum) to remove clauses from the Australian Constitution which discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This referendum also gave the Commonwealth Government the power to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the national census and make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to address inequalities. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this powerful decision by the people of Australia.
Also during Reconciliation Week, we remember the 1992 High Court of Australia’s Mabo decision, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land – a relationship that existed prior to colonisation and continues today. This legal recognition formed the basis of Native Title – legal recognition of the land rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and elimination of the legal fiction of terra nullius (“empty land”).
The High Court case took ten years to resolve and was championed by Torres Strait Islander, Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo, who unfortunately passed away five months before the High Court’s decision.
Bonnie’s is committed to doing our part towards achieving reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people. We have recently embarked on the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), in partnership with Reconciliation Australia. The development of our RAP is being driven by both our Aboriginal and non-Indigenous staff, and external advisors from our local community. The plan will work on improving relationships, demonstrating respect and maximising opportunities between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous staff, clients and our broader community.
We are very proud to be doing our part to support reconciliation in Australia. You can find out more about Reconciliation Action Plans here.
Written by Catherine