This year National Reconciliation Week [NRW] ran from May 27th to the 3rd of June. NRW is a vital week that acknowledges the need for ongoing change, whilst recognizing all the progress previously made. Reconciliation week is a time for all Australians to celebrate the history and strengths of Indigenous Australian cultures. It is a time to understand how as individuals, we can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The theme of this year is Be brave. Make change, encouraging people to enact change, through everyday actions – where they live, work, play and socialize.
Prior to the commencement of NRW in 2022, an online panel discussion unpacking reconciliation in Australia was conducted. The panel discussed our reconciliation journey and what it means to be ‘brave’. The panel expressed the need to ensure that they were creating spaces and opportunities for colleagues and the community to discuss reconciliation actions and advancement beyond NRW.
Reconciliation Week at UOW began with the raising of the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal flags. These flags were raised at the Innovation Campus, recognising that an important element of the UOW Reconciliation Action Plan [RAP] aims to create stronger relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. Following this, Woolyungah hosted an array of events that encouraged people to get involved. These included: collaborating with Madman Entertainment to host a movie night featuring Murunkak – Songs of Freedom; an ‘allyship’ session led by Yorta Yorta woman and UOW academic, Dr Summer May Finlay; an online trivia/quiz challenge; and a Cultural Immersion Community event which was open to all students, staff and members of the community. The Cultural immersion event focused on UOW’s commitment to the type of truth-telling, education and healing that is fundamental to the reconciliation journey.
Throughout National Reconciliation Week, Woolyungah and UOW staff worked in collaboration with UOW’s Manager of Projects for Indigenous Advancement, Wiradjuri woman, Tammy Small. Tammy shed some light on the importance of NWR and why it is a time to celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and reflect on the University’s reconciliation goals moving forward.
“Cultural immersion community events provide our staff and students with the opportunity to transform their thinking, through engaging with, and valuing, the stories of individuals” Ms. Small said.
“This year’s theme – Be Brave, Make Change – aligns perfectly with the university’s new Reconciliation Action Plan, that aims to equip our staff and students with educational armour around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters, helping create a shift in the movement from being safe, to being courageous”.
Ms. Small went on to add:
“We must remember as a collective that reconciliation is everybody’s business. We need to move beyond the ‘when in doubt, leave it out’ way of thinking and work towards developing the tools necessary to foster fairer and more truthful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” Be sure to check the video from our RAP Launch as it provides further insight into UOW’s vision for reconciliation.
If you are interested in learning more about our 2022-2024 Innovate Reconciliation Action plan or about our RAP journey, please reach out to Tammy Small.