How Can I Get Involved With Reconciliation Week Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

A week of events spent with brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles. Festivals, workshops, gatherings and learnings.

A time to share Indigenous culture with the rest of Australia. A date in the calendar dedicated to nurturing relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

This is what National Reconciliation Week (NRW) has been about for the past two decades.

And while COVID-19 means community events have been cancelled, the key purposes of NRW remain the same, even if the celebration looks different.

“It’s a great time to share our culture with non-Aboriginal people and educate others about the importance of our culture and its central role in Australian society,” Dr Andrew Peters, senior lecturer in Indigenous Studies and Tourism at Swinburne University told HuffPost Australia.

So what is the history and how can you get involved this year?

Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Reconciliation Week?

Starting on Wednesday May 27, NRW will mark 20 years since 250,000 Australians walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and bridges in other cities around the country, to ‘bridge the gap’ between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians.

Dr Peters, who is a proud Wurundjeri and Yorta Yorta man, said it’s an important event all Aussies should know about.

“We’re all on Aboriginal land, and it all contains story and history that we can all connect to. This isn’t a culture that was imported – it’s been a part of this land from the beginning,” he explained.

“It belongs to the land we now call Australia, so all of us are connected to it today.”

It’s important to know that the next chapter of Australia’s history can only happen if we understand the truth of our past and while many of these truths are hard to accept, many are stories of resilience, triumph and Indigenous excellence.

“There are some terrible parts of our history, but far more wonderful parts that shape who we are today. Reconciliation Week is a great time for Australians to start, continue, or strengthen their own journey of learning that the world’s oldest living culture is right here, and a part of us all. I think if all Australians look at the land as something to work with, and not on, these connections can start for anyone.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 13: An earth oven is dug up at Hyde Park on July 13, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each year to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

How Will We Celebrate Amid COVID-19?

You can still be involved in Reconciliation Week even in a pandemic, NITV host Karla Grant told HuffPost Australia.

“While we can’t have the huge gatherings and events that we’d otherwise have during this week, we can still take part and get behind the many digital offerings happening online,” she said.

“We can find other ways of educating, creating greater awareness and understanding about the plight of Indigenous Australians and how we can all unite and work together as a nation to improve the lives of our First Peoples.”

Starting Monday and through until Mabo Day on June 3, NITV has a dedicated slate of coverage to celebrate Reconciliation Week 2020 including special episodes of The Point and Living Black which will explore how, 20 years on, COVID-19 has brought a new dimension to the event.

“As this year’s National Reconciliation Week theme says, we are In this together,” said Reconciliation Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Karen Mundine.

“That theme is resonating now in ways we could not have foreseen but it reminds us whether in a crisis or in reconciliation, we are all in this together!”



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