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Reconciliation and moving on
Some years have passed since I last wrote on Reconciliation in the 'Mail' papers, but a quick glance over the five years that I did write, brought my thoughts together for this article. I started writing not long after the genesis of the push that led to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology in the Australian Parliament and the huge march for reconciliation across the Bolte Bridge. In '02, I joined the Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville as chaplain, and in '07, committed to work with the Shire on their Reconciliation Committee.
Interestingly my previous Mail topic titles progressed from, 'Celebrations Born of Mourning' in '03, an awakening article about why we needed to reconcile and the sad history of our Indigenous peoples, to 'Reconciliation 04 - Is it Working?' A year on since the 'first flush' of action had subsided I wrote with a view to get things moving again so I wrote about forgiveness in general for life relationships and the fact that that needed to be worked out between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. In '05 I encouraged readers to take 'The Next Step', followed by 'It is a Challenge' in '06, looking at practical ways through. Then in '08, an article on 'The Mechanics of Reconciliation', things that mechanically needed to be done to help reconciliation have the necessary legs to 'walk' with, and I finished that article with a great footy coach's famous words, in brief, "DO SOMETHING". (These articles can be accessed via www.focalpoint.org.au - Mail Articles).
Given that I believe true reconciliation needed to start with the young, a Primary Schools Indigenous Forum was set up with many local schools signing up. Of course this is going to take time to filter through - ten, fifteen or twenty years before these young people will stand tall for and with Indigenous Australians as they are faced with social and community responsibility.
So where are we now? Much work is continuing through various groups and bodies in conjunction with the Shire. A new framework for action has been instigated by the Shire to take us to 2023. Much of this work is centering on the Indigenous way of communicating through culture, art and dance. Culture is seen to be fundamental to identity and art and dance as part of that helps strengthen ties with the land.
We have come a long way in the last fifteen years but we have a long way to go. Let us not get frustrated with an unseen destiny we dream about and plan for over the horizon, rather let us continue to be fellow travelers encouraging and supporting each other ---- on the journey.
Graeme Dawson B.Min. Grad.Dip.CC.
© Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009