I do apologise that this blog is a day late. It is my last week at work before Maternity leave and I am feeling all 34 weeks of this beautiful baby in my belly. I am excited however to share with you a little about reconciliation week, what it means to me and our family, and some ways which each of us can acknowledge the rich history that is woven into the ground beneath our feet.
Today the 27th of May was chosen to begin reconciliation week as it is the very day in 1967 when Aboriginal people were granted the right to vote and acknowledged respectfully in the Australian constitution after a referendum in which 90% of people voted ‘YES”. The end of reconciliation week is June 3rd which is the date in 1992 that Eddie Mabo won a court case for Native Title ending terra nullius (a law that had previously stood, meaning land belonging to nobody, or empty land). Follow the links for more details about this history. In short, Australia’s steps toward healing the conflict between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is very recent history and it is up to all of us to take time in our lives, workplaces, with our families and within our communities to encourage and support the recognition of the traditional peoples of this land.
Here on the Sunshine Coast there are many Aboriginal place names: Kawana, meaning wild blossom, Mooloolaba a name for snapper, Maroochydore the black swan and others. Some places on the Sunshine Coast such as the foot sanctuary in Buderim have amazing signage about native plants and how they were used by Aboriginal people. Many businesses have adopted RAP (reconciliation action plan) programs to work towards acknowledging and embedding Indigenous perspectives into their day to day planning. I am a member of the Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Group Incorporated SCRGI) and this week we have a stand outside of Stockland shopping centre to show their support for this week. SCRGI are holding the Aunty Betty Reconciliation Walk from 9am to 2pm on Wednesday 29th May at the Sunshine Coast Hospital. Click on the links for more information.
On Saturday at Coolum park the Sunshine Coast Regional Council will hold an open air screening of Mabo- a movie made about the Mabo court case and the life of Eddie Mabo. This is a great movie and would be a fun afternoon for all of the family. The screening starts at 4:45pm , see this link for more information- MABO.
So how can we each make a difference towards reconciliation? I think the answer is in asking questions… when you go for a walk, are meeting with colleagues or friends… was this land you are standing on a significant meeting place in the past? What stories does it hold? What hidden histories lie under your feet? Do you have native plants in your garden or close to your house? How were they used? What season is it and how is this season reflected in the environment around us… is it mud crab catching time, time for the salmon run up the coast, or time to head inland and collect Bunya nuts?
How can we each listen to our environment in greater detail like Aboriginal elders did before us? Some beautiful stories of the local landscape are that of the Glasshouse Mountains and also of Mount Coolum. Follow the links and read them, share the stories with your children, partners and friends. This is the way that we can reawaken a connection to the dreamtime and to a wisdom that understood for 60,000 years how to live in harmony with the land.
I am very passionate about reconciliation as I have worked in Weipa, Cape York and seen the devastation that disempowerment and white domination has done to Aboriginal communities, in the form of domestic violence, alcoholism, poor health and limited education. I wish to be part of and for my children to be part of healing these wounds through connecting with our Aboriginal community, acknowledging difficult histories and weaving a future where Aboriginality becomes a strong part of the Australian identity. Sustainability lives within this ancient wisdom also as traditional custodians acknowledge the ‘land owns us, we do not own the land’. Thank you for reading this week, let us walk together with courage. Love from our RAMA family.