This year marks a particularly important time in Australia’s journey toward a fair, equal and reconciled society.
2020 celebrates the 20-year anniversary of Reconciliation Australia, a non-profit foundation established to promote positive relations between Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous communities.
Also celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year is the monumental Sydney Harbour Bridge trek, in which 250,000 Australians united to cross the bridge in support for reconciliation. The event ultimately became the biggest show of public backing for a single cause in Australian history.
"The reconciliation bridge walks marked a shift in our national consciousness, and 20 years later, more than 90% of Australians now support reconciliation, with 80% believing in the importance of formal truth-telling processes,” Reconciliation Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine, wrote on Reconciliation Australia's website.
This week in particular, as the nation honours National Reconciliation Week, individuals across the country have reflected on the role they have played, and continue to play, in the nation’s long journey to equality, equity and acceptance.
Below, we have compiled a small list of ways all Australians can educate themselves, impactfully take action and fight racism, prejudice and systemic injustice in its many forms.
In My Blood It Runs
Acclaimed 2020 documentary, In My Blood It Runs, follows the story of Dujuan — a young Indigenous boy who strives to see the age of criminal responsibility raised from 10 to 14 and advocates for the opening of Indigenous-led education. Following the release of the documentary, Dujuan was asked to speak about Australia’s youth justice system in an address to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva.
You can watch the powerful documentary via Vimeo.
Reconciliation Film Club
In 2017, Reconciliation Australia, National Indigenous Television (NITV) and broadcaster SBS partnered to launch the Reconciliation Film Club. The online platform encourages organisations to host screenings of Indigenous documentaries to ignite impactful discourse. Now, SBS is distributing screening copies of several documentaries by key Indigenous filmmakers so individuals can host National Reconciliation Week-themed screenings from their homes.
Among the documentaries on offer are Black Divas, a film that investigates sisterhood, drag, the queer community and politics, and Truth Be Told: Least We Forget, a documentary that explores the events of World War 1 from an Indigenous perspective.
Tell Me Why by Archie Roach
Iconic Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter Archie Roach’s memoir, Tell Me Why, explores the power of music, connection and culture. The book also highlights Roach’s childhood trauma which stems from being forcibly removed from his family as a toddler. Tell Me Why features alongside an array of Indigenous Australian novels and poetry in Reconciliation Australia’s newly released reading list.
Reconciliation Australia is also urging individuals to host virtual book clubs featuring books by Indigenous authors.
'Voices From the Bush — How Lockdown Affects Remote Indigenous Communities Differently'
As part of The Conversation’s Friday Essay series, lecturers and professors from across the country's top universities explore how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic — including the measures of self-isolation and social distancing — affects the most remote Indigneous communities.
IndigiTUBE is a media platform by and for First Nations people that works to “preserve language and culture for future generations.” The platform has curated a National Reconciliation Week lineup full of radio programs, podcasts and playlists featuring fresh Indigenous music for people to sink their teeth into.
Awaye! Word Up
Produced by the ABC and presented by Daniel Browning, Awaye! Word Up celebrates the hundreds of Indigenous languages in Australia by inviting guests to share one word of significance per episode. Words have already been featured from some of the most robust Aboriginal languages, including Warlpiri, Gundungurra, Gamilaraay and Gangalidda.
4. Donate What You Can
Bridging the Gap Foundation for Indigenous Health and Education
The Bridging the Gap Foundation works explicitly to address various gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by funding research into health and education.
North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency
The North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency is a not-for-profit legal service in Australia’s Northern Territory that provides robust and culturally appropriate criminal and civil law assistance to Indigenous communities.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance was established in 2009 to advocate for and enable Indigenous women to have a say in domestic and international policy decision-making.
Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS)
Since 1960, ALS has fought for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Today, ALS works predominantly across criminal law, children’s care and protection law and family law.
The National Justice Project
The National Justice Project provides legal services to Indigenous individuals who may otherwise be left behind and educates vulnerable individuals about their fundamental rights.
Sisters Inside advocates for the rights and safety of Indigenous women and girls in prison. Systemic racism sees Indigenous adults and children significantly over-represented in prison populations. Indingenous Australians make up 2% of the general population and 27% of the prison population — making them the most incarcerated people in the world.
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR)
ANTaR is an independent and non-partisan national advocacy organisation committed to advancing the rights of Australia’s First Peoples. The organisation has been lobbying with other Indigenous organisations and leaders on reconciliation issues since 1997.
5. Use and Share Key Resources
Alongside calling friends and family to engage in discussions around the importance of reconciliation and equality, you can also show support by following and reposting Reconciliation Australia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and use their tags: #InThisTogether2020 and #NRW2020.
Reconciliation Australia explained to Global Citizen that, while Reconciliation Week will soon come to a close, “people are welcome to take action toward reconciliation every day.” The foundation has compiled a list of key resources, businesses and enterprises for individuals to engage with and support amid National Reconciliation Week 2020 and beyond.