Focal Point (for publishing-23/05/06)
Reconciliation is a Challenge
Reconciliation week is here again but this time without the fanfare and the wave of new enthusiasm that it started with a number of years ago. As far as the Shire of Yarra Ranges goes it has been a deliberate strategy to spread events over the year rather have them all concentrated around the two particularly significantly times of the year. The second is NAIDOC Week in July. In this article I will try to clear up some issues that still raise questions among the best of the non-aboriginal community. Firstly, you may not know but the National Day of Healing sits outside and just before Reconciliation Week (27th May to 3rd June). You've not heard of it? It's the new name for what was known as Sorry Day. It's held on the Friday the 26th, the day before Reconciliation Week starts. Sorry Day was particularly important when the concept of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was gaining impetuous. As the years have moved on and many words of 'sorry' have been said, albeit not from our National Government, it was now thought best to find ways in which the healing can continue. To understand the need for healing is to understand that since white settlement took place, a growing alienation occurred to the extent that the original inhabitants had little place in the white man's world. Up until 1967 Indigenous Australians did not have full citizenship rights. In many cases ignorance and a British view of history in our school textbooks, did not help us to really get to know the intrinsically beautiful and peace loving first nation peoples of this land. Peace loving you might say, what has been going on in the Domain lately? Well, from where I sit, and with consultation with local Wurundjeri Elders, that radical element were not representative of the local people, it was not their country and although they may have held a larger grievance about white invasion, had no right to stand on that ground representing the local tribal nation. Then there was the news this week of the alleged sexual abuse of tribal children in the north of Australia. Shocking, yes. Something has to be done to protect the children, yes. Sadly because they are Indigenous, they tend to taint all of their peoples. This doesn't happen in our white community. The existence of thousands of white sexual abusers and pedophiles (it is said the one in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually abused) doesn't mean we are all like that. We understand that. Why not apply this rule to our Indigenous fellow Australians. Try watching 'Message Stick' on the ABC and see the beautiful, articulate and constructively minded young Indigenous people that are leading the way in the new Reconciled Australia. Check out what is happening in Indigenous education at Swinburne University and look up my website (www.focalpoint.org.au) for a balanced view of the issues that are live in the journey to understanding of these Australians. Through the 'site' links you can access the 'Koori Mail', Koori Justice' and many other worthwhile sites. Re. Reconciliation Week, contact the Shire for 'what's going on'.
If you would like to make contact, ring me on 0409 517273
Graeme Dawson Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager