Held annually from 27 May to 3 June, National Reconciliation Week is bookended by important milestones: the 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision, respectively.
In 2017, these milestones mark significant anniversaries: 50 years since the 1967 referendum, and 25 years since the Mabo decision.
The week reminds us that big changes take persistence and courage, so let’s celebrate together and take the next steps.
On 27 May 1967, the Australian Government held a referendum. This was a momentous turning point in Australian history. The 1967 referendum altered the Australian Constitution. More than 90 per cent of Australian voters chose ‘Yes’ to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census and give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Before 1967, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples did not have the same rights as other Australians under the Australian Constitution. Many aspects of their lives were controlled by the state governments, including the right to:
- Vote in state elections
- Marry whomever they chose
- Move to wherever they chose
- Own property wherever they chose
- Be the legal guardian of their own children
- Receive the same pay for the same work
- Drink alcohol.
The Mabo decision was named after Eddie Mabo, the man who challenged the Australian legal system and fought for recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of their land.
Gladstone Regional Council along with Nhulundu Health Services held a National Reconciliation Week Community Fun Day at Barney Point Park on Saturday to celebrate National Reconciliation Day.
The crowd was entertained by a live performance by Dave Dow. Everyone enjoyed a free barbecue lunch and the kids had lots of fun with inflatable rides, face painting, and traditional dancing!
Gladstone News spoke to a local Indigenous man, Alf about National Reconciliation Week. Read the article here.