Opinion

We can all learn from the past

by
May 28, 2018

Don’t Keep History a Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow. This is the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week.

Don’t Keep History a Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow.

This is the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week.

The theme shines a light on stories from our past that have been in the shadows for too long.

Stories of survival, resistance, courage and achievement that we must listen to if Australia is to embrace the truth, healing and justice needed to bring us together.

The theme is also an invitation to all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.

An invitation to build a deeper understanding of Australia’s history; to share this knowledge and, in the process, to help us grow as a nation.

An invitation to help and guide us on the journey to historical acceptance of our past.

Historical acceptance is a dimension of reconciliation requiring Australians to acknowledge the injustices of the past and their impacts, both historical and contemporary and make amends for past wrongs.

According to Reconciliation Australia’s 2016 Reconciliation Barometer, many non-indigenous Australians do not accept historical injustices happened nor see a link between these events and the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.

As Professor Pat Dodson, founding chairperson of the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation and Australian Labor Party Senator for Western Australia commented: ‘‘There is a discernible lack of appreciation by settler Australia about the grievances and sense of historical injustice that indigenous people feel. This must be addressed for Australia to be reconciled.’’

Recent murals on the wall of Goulburn Valley Water, including the new images of Aunty Marge Tucker and Nanny Nora Charles, and the new image on the wall of Eastbank are part of the learning, sharing and growing.

They highlight the histories, stories and contributions of the local Aboriginal community.

The short listing of the local murals as finalists in the Reconciliation Victoria and Victorian Local Governance Association’s HART (Helping Achieve Reconciliation Together) Awards, recognises the importance of local initiatives in the telling of our history.

In 1996, at the inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial lecture, former Governor General Sir William Deane said: ‘‘The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do.’’

We need to bring the past out into the open.

We cannot change our history, but we can change how we respond to it.

It is knowledge and understanding that will free us to create a nation that is just, equitable and reconciled: a nation in which we can all feel pride and in which we can all share.

So join in the local National Reconciliation Week activities and, as you do, reflect on the importance of each step in your journey to reconciliation.

Reconciliation is everyone’s business, so your participation helps to ensure that history does not remain a mystery.

You are learning, sharing and growing.

And it does make a difference.

To find out more about reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia’s 2016 Reconciliation Barometer visit: www.reconciliation.org.au/what-is-reconciliation/

Reconciliation week events 

Tomorrow, 11am: Launch of the mural of Aunty Marge Tucker and Nanny Nora Charles, Goulburn Valley Water laneway off Fryers St.

Wednesday, 7.30pm: Westside Ilbijerri’s production of Which Way Home. Tickets from Riverlinks, phone 58329511.

Thursday, 9.30am: The Flats Walk at The Connection. Bookings are necessary. To book, phone 58329479.

The Eastbank launch of the mural commemorating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women and a screening of Gurumul at Village Cinemas were held yesterday.

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