Reconciliation Day is a public holiday only in the ACT, marking the start of National Reconciliation Week. It is held on the first Monday after or on 27 May, the anniversary of the 1967 referendum. It was held for the first time on 28 May 2018.
CW asked several well-known Canberrans of Indigenous heritage, men and women, to share what Reconciliation Day means to them (three responses were received prior to print deadline).
“As a proud Wiradjuri man, it’s great to see people embracing Reconciliation Day. The day is a great way to bring all cultures together and help celebrate what it means to be Indigenous. As an NRL player for the Raiders, I know I have the profile to help support Indigenous people and issues in our community and Reconciliation Day is a great chance to do this.”
Owner, Darkies Design and 2018 ACT Australian of the Year
“I embrace Reconciliation and believe it’s needed in Australia as a result of our history. I think it’s important for all Australians as it gives everyone the opportunity to heal and to try to move forward from a past that has had many negative effects on the First Peoples of our great country. I am very proud to be Australian and even more proud to be an Indigenous Australian. I believe we live in the best country in the world … I look for a time when we accept and embrace the diversity of cultures in Australia as that is what makes us Australians. I encourage all Australians to celebrate and embrace the fact that the Indigenous Australian cultures are the oldest living cultures in the world. They are beautiful and powerful and are cultures that should be celebrated by all Australians to showcase and promote to the world; I believe Reconciliation is the vehicle we can use to do this.”
ABC Canberra presenter
“I’m so thrilled that Reconciliation Day is marked with a public holiday here, I think that just elevates it, so, at first instance, I think that’s really important. I would hope Reconciliation Day is a chance for us to come together and think about how we can better come together as a society: What are some of the things that can happen at the political level? What can happen in a community level? But what about me as an individual? What can I do to help us to become a more reconciled country? The answer to that is going to be different depending on who you are and what life circumstances and situation you are in, but I’d like everyone to think about that … and that might mean with our neighbours or with someone that we don’t know. That’s not just the question around Indigenous affairs.”