On election night, Anthony Albanese opened his acceptance speech with a full commitment to the Uluru Statement From the Heart. It came just a week ahead of National Reconciliation Week, which kicks off on Friday May 27, following National Sorry Day on May 26.
“Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward,” Reconciliation Australia – the not-for-profit that shapes the week and sets its annual theme – said in a statement.
Reconciliation Week began nearly 30 years ago as a Week of Prayer for Reconciliation during 1993’s International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Three years later the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation launched Australia’s first national observance of the week.
In 2000, an estimated quarter of a million people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge to show their support for reconciliation. In the following days thousands of others crossed bridges in their own towns and cities in a symbolic, nationwide gesture of hope. In Melbourne, the walk across the Yarra at Princes Bridge is said to have attracted close to 300,000 people.
Nelson Mandela later said the bridge walks were evidence of a country “wanting to heal itself and deal with the hurt of the past”, cautioning that “leaving wounds unattended leads to them festering, and eventually causes greater injury to the body of society”.
Reconciliation Australia was established the following year to provide national leadership for the country’s complex and ongoing journey towards harmony and justice.
The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2022 is “Be brave, make change”, calling on Australians to take “brave actions” to “tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation”. Dozens of events are planned across the country in celebration – from film festivals, talks and exhibitions to storytelling, dance workshops, markets and more.
Wear It Yellow
Aboriginal-led organisation Children’s Ground is urging schools, businesses and individuals across the traditional lands of the country’s more than 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to Wear It Yellow and fundraise for change. Funds go directly to Children’s Ground, which says it will use them to “help brighten the future for First Nations children and their families”.
Literacy Is Freedom T-shirt
The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) has partnered with Australian creatives Deus Ex Machina to produce a commemorative T-shirt for Reconciliation Week. The ALNF says “literacy is freedom – to take control of your life, be informed, have a voice, stand up for your rights, resist exploitation and be self-confident and self-reliant.” Designed and printed in Australia, the limited edition tees have the support of a number of high profile Aboriginal Australians, including Adam Goodes, Tony Armstrong and Casey Donovan, and coincide with the launch of a new campaign the ANLF says will "transform and empower First Nations communities across the country through literacy, language and education." The T-shirt retails for $60 and can be purchased from David Jones online, Deus Ex Machina in Camperdown and Good Ways Deli in Redfern. All proceeds will support ALNF’s vital work with First Nations communities.
Virtual Indigenous Film Festival
Online, the Virtual Indigenous Film Festival (Viff) is showcasing First Nations cinematic talent with a collection of award-winning films. Running from May 26 to 30, Viff will screen the first two episodes of Firebite, the desert vampire series from filmmakers Warwick Thornton and Brendan Fletcher, as well as documentary Off Country, which follows the lives of seven Aboriginal students as they transition to their new lives at one of Australia’s most elite boarding schools. My Name is Gulpilil, the 2021 documentary following revered Yolngu actor David Gulpilil, and Wash My Soul in the River’s Flow, the love story of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, are also screening.
These stories, and those in the shorts stream, all seek to highlight “unique elements of Indigenous culture, experience and story”, according to Viff. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A panel discussion.
National Reconciliation Week at Melbourne Quarter
The CBD’s emerging Melbourne Quarter precinct is leaning into Reconciliation Week with a raft of events planned. A pop-up market showcasing well-loved Aboriginal-owned brands such as Haus of Dizzy, Clothing the Gaps and Gammin Threads will be running all week. Acoustic sets from Aboriginal musicians will liven up the area daily, and a decadent floral installation designed by Alchemy Orange will celebrate the history and culture of Victoria’s 11 First Nations groups. A new mural by Wurundjeri artist Simone Thomson, and a podcast hosted by award-winning multidisciplinary Yiman artist Shannon Williams, aka Brotha Black, will also be launched.
Bulnuruwanha (Taking Flight)
At the Sydney Opera House, First Nations choreographer and dancer – and new Bangarra member – Emily Flannery presents Bulnuruwanha (Taking Flight), a performance and dance workshop that brings kids and families on a journey into the Wiradjuri Dreamtime stories of the Magpie, Willy Wagtail, Kookaburra and Cockatoo. The four dances are inspired by birds and animals of the NSW Central Coast – and you’ll be invited to learn the choreography, too.
On Friday May 27, the Koojay Corroboree kicks off the week at Coogee Beach with dancing, fire displays and a smoking ceremony. There’ll also be a fashion parade from Buluuy Mirrii Design, a label that creates one-off pieces from specially commissioned Gomeroi artworks.
Art & This Place
At the Gallery of Modern Art on Sunday May 29, emerging Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri curator and artist Sam Harrison will lead a free tour exploring works in the gallery’s Indigenous Australian Art Collection by artists including Judy Watson, Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Ryan Presley and Vernon Ah Kee. Spots are limited.
Nguyanguya Muri Wamangka (Reconciliation in the Park)
On Friday June 3, Pinky Flat on the banks of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri will come alive with a free concert and community event from 4pm. There’ll be performances from powerhouse Aboriginal musicians Baker Boy, J-MILLA, Tilly Tjala Thomas, Deadly Nannas & SVLLO as well as live art, a pop-up market and more.
Out west, the creativity, ambition and diversity of WA’s contemporary Aboriginal art scene is on display with the return of the annual Revealed exhibition at Fremantle Arts Centre. Featuring more than 250 pieces by 100 local artists, as well as talks, workshops and demonstrations, the program runs throughout Reconciliation Week and into late July. Art lovers will have the chance to make connections to culture, meet with artists from all over the state and support them by purchasing their works.
National Reconciliation Week 2022 runs from Friday May 27 to Friday June 3. Find the full program of events online.