What to know about National Reconciliation Week

What to know about National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is an annual event run by Reconciliation Australia that asks all Australians to reflect and learn from First Nations peoples and Communities. There are a number of significant dates during this week. 

The theme for 2023 is Be a Voice For Generations. Check out their video that marks key dates. This is an important year for all Australians to reflect on what they can do to work towards reconciliation.

Sorry Day, May 26

National Sorry Day is on May 26, remembering and paying respect to the First Nations peoples forcibly removed from their homes as part of the Stolen Generations. 

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been in some way affected by the Stolen Generations, whether it was their grandparents, parents, or themselves being removed from their families, cultures and Communities, or having relatives taken away from them. 

It is important for Australia to acknowledge that First Nations children are still being removed at alarming rates from their families. The ILF also acknowledges the incredible strength and resilience of the oldest living culture on earth. Learn more about what Sorry Day is about

The Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, May 27

The Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the start of NRW is on May 27. The Referendum made two changes to the Australian constitution, that First Nations people were counted as citizens for the first time and the same laws applied to them as other Australians. 

This means that only 55 years ago First Nations peoples were not citizens of this country. You can learn more about exactly what this means on the Right Wrongs website. 

Anniversary of Torres Strait Islander Flag, May 29

May 29 is the anniversary of the Torres Strait Islander Flag, being 31 years since the late Bernard Namok Senior from Thursday Island won the design competition for the flag and it was presented to the people. 

The symbol is the Dhori and identifies Torres Strait Islanders. 

“The five points of the star are our group the Eastern, Central, Western, Port Kennedy group and the many that made the mainland their home" explained Namok.

AIATSIS: Torres Strait Islander flag.

Mabo Day, June 2

Mabo Day is on June 2 which recognises the anniversary of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s work for Native Title and to overturn ‘terra nullius’ in 1992. 

Terra nullius’ defined the Australian continent as ‘land belonging to no one’ prior to British invasion and therefore First Nations people as part of the flora and fauna. We recommend the 2012 film ‘Mabo’ that showcases his incredible journey and fight for his people. 

AIATSIS: Eddie Koiki Mabo.

Learn More About How The ILF Supports Indigenous Literacy in Remote Communities


The ILF RAP Committee has organised for ILF staff to engage with the Reconciliation Australia Voices For Generations choir where groups are encouraged to learn the iconic song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ about the Wave Hill Walk Off

In 1966 Vincent Lingari and the Gurindji people initiated a strike at Wave Hill station which lasted eight years and eventually led to the Gurindji people being visited by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Whitlam poured a handful of sand into the hand of Vincent Lingari which symbolised the returning of the land to the Traditional Owners. 

The incredible story has been immortalised into song by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody and is celebrated during this year’s NRW. 

SBS: Vincent Lingari and Gough Whitlam, 1966. 

It is really important to engage with this week and try to at least use it as a time to learn about the rights that First Nations people have fought for in this country. NRW is not only an opportunity but an obligation for all Australians to learn more about the complex histories of this nation and strive toward reconciliation. 

You can learn more and engage with the week via Reconciliation Australia

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Written by Ella Schofield.

  • Posted 26 May, 2023

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