The Governor has recorded a message to mark National Sorry Day (Tuesday 26th May) and National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June).
This year’s theme is “In this together”. In 2020, Reconciliation Australia marks twenty years of shaping Australia’s journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation.
View the message in the video frame below.
I acknowledge the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation from whose traditional lands we are broadcasting and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.
We are privileged to share this continent with the oldest civilisation on earth and the only one which predates the last ice age. A civilisation which perfected hunter gathering and so had leisure for science and philosophy. Whose achievements in engineering, medicine, science, astronomy and land management are only just being widely understood.
Reconciliation Week should also be subtitled ‘Knowledge Week’.
It’s when the broader community gets to understand the contribution of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to the nation’s survival and happiness.
It is also a chance to understand and reflect on the trials they have been through and suffered.
Moving forward and fostering positive race relations means our relationship must be grounded in a foundation of truth. Truth telling is vital to healing.
22 years ago, the first Sorry Day was held. Sorry Day is now marked annually (on the 26th May) to remember the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations, the resilience that has been shown and the healing power of saying sorry.
Today, as we find ourselves at the start of a new decade, we are looking towards a new chapter and ‘a new normal’.
The effects of COVID-19 have affected us all. More than ever we have an opportunity in front of us to build better communities across all facets.
I have been deeply impressed with the clever thinking by Aboriginal medical services on community protection, and the rapid movement of people back to community, well supported by a complex family and relationship system. It has to be said in all these matters – so far so good. But we are by no means out of the woods.
This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme ‘In this together’ is a very timely message. It reminds us that whether in a crisis or in reconciliation, we are all in this together.
We each have a role to play in building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their histories and their cultures.
As Governor I’m increasingly encouraged by initiatives that speak to this togetherness and demonstrate we are heading in the right direction.
Last year, Government House was the backdrop for the inaugural Aboriginal Police Service Medal Presentation, the launch of the inaugural Dr Tracy Westerman Aboriginal Psychology Scholarship and a celebration of 100 Yorga Djenna Bidi Graduates as part of the WA Aboriginal Leadership Institute.
And this year, Perth Festival dedicated the entirety of its first week to First Nations performances.
It’s imperative that this week, in the absence of the normal events we might hold, that the voices of our Aboriginal community are represented. Using technology to share these stories is the opportunity of now.
Together, let’s foster meaningful positive change and celebrate the base for that built on progressive initiatives by all sections of the community.