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A Reconciliation Day in ACT?

Michael Reid 7 August 2016 21

Chris Bourke

Chris Bourke believes we should have a new or rebadged public holiday in the territory: Reconciliation Day.

And the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs minister is keen to hear what Canberrans have to say on the matter.

“I want to hear what people have got to say,” says Bourke, the first Indigenous Australian elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly. “I want to know if they think it’s a good idea, I want to know if they like the timing.

“I’m pretty keen on having it on that first Monday after the 27th of May because that lines up with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, when Australians voted so overwhelmingly to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Next year is also the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision, which struck down the myth of terra nullius, and paved the way for native title to deliver such good outcomes for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so I think there’s quite a bit of synergy about having at that particular time.

“Whether you take the Queen’s Birthday holiday and move it back a week, or you lift the Family and Community Day out of September and move it into that first Monday after the 27th – that is something that I’d like to hear what people think about it.

“People might have a view that there’s already not enough holidays at the back half of the year, so maybe we should shift that Queen’s Birthday holiday.”

Bourke says one option might be to have a co-badged commemoration.

“Other people might say why don’t you follow the South Australian example and give the holiday a double header name, where they actually have Queens’s birthday and Volunteers Day.

“We could have Queen’s Birthday and Reconciliation Day, so there’s a range of options there.

“I just want to hear what people have to say about any of those ideas, or whether they think this is a good idea or not.”


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21 Responses to A Reconciliation Day in ACT?
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runtheredlight runtheredlight 10:48 am 11 Jul 16

I think we should consider a Reconciliation Day if only because the comments on this article alone demonstrate the need for society to better appreciate and understand Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures, and heritage. I’m troubled that so many seem so uncomfortable with the idea.

Those who believe that Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people are somehow “ahead” of non-indigenous people in Australia are blithely ignoring the statistics on incarceration, education, employment, life expectancy, and basically every other measure of “success” in contemporary society.

Those who think that invasion, settlement, and colonisation are somehow “ancient history” fail to appreciate the long-term implications of these actions. The systematic oppression of Indigenous peoples was built upon such foundations, and it continues today. The moves to elevate Indigenous peoples in public life are undertaken BECAUSE we acknowledge that they have been historically disadvantaged in a way that makes “normal” participation almost impossible without assistance.

I would refer those of you saying “They have enough already! All they do is take more than their share and complain! We give them so much!” to the statistics, again. How many Indigenous Australians live in this country? What is their net “share”? Of the taxes you pay, what percentage is dedicated or isolated solely for the use of Indigenous Australians, and might I add, to the detriment of non-indigenous? You don’t even know. Go and read the ANU report on Indigenous employment in the APS and the responses from Indigenous employees – it was reported in the Canberra Times in June of this year. Come back and tell me “They have enough”. Or perhaps you’ll come back and tell me “They’re not trying hard enough”?

I challenge anyone to show me a part of society where Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples are well- or over-represented in a positive way, outside of the institutions and bodies created specifically for their interests. Do you really think this puts them waaaaaaay ahead of non-indigenous society?

I’d prefer to hear from Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples as to whether they would like a Reconciliation Day or other day of commemoration, and what, and why. We cannot and should not stop acknowledging Indigenous Australians until we truly have equality. Those of you who believe it is already present are burying their heads in the sand.

miz miz 10:05 am 10 Jul 16

Why? There is already so much pomp and ceremony acknowledging Indigenous, a lot of it which I personally find rather cringe-worthy, e.g. every time there is a function, then there is NAIDOC, Sorry day, lots of special benefits and grants – I mean seriously, we are all Australians. Can we just get on with actual egalitarianism for everyone?

joingler joingler 8:22 am 10 Jul 16

No matter when the public holiday is, most Canberrans will “celebrate” by spending the long weekend down the coast, in Sydney or make a trip to the snow

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 6:39 am 09 Jul 16

Further to my comment [sorry for the double post], when is a person classified as being part of a particular ethnic group? A lot of supposed Aboriginal people are several generations removed from having any genuine aboriginal blood in their veins. “My great-great grandmother’s cousin was part of the Ngunnawal tribe” does not make you a fair dinkum indigenous Australian. With that mentality, I could call myself Swedish, Finnish, Russian and possibly any of several other nationalities if I dug deeper into the family tree. Were I to go back to any of those countries and make territorial or indigenous claims I’d be laughed out of court. Yet we seem to be totally accepting of blatantly white-skinned caucasians being of Aboriginal descent via long lost blood lines and allow them to claim benefits to suit. Then they cry foul and blame racism against them for their plight of living poorly in public housing, being stuck on welfare and unable to work. I know of many genuine indigenous Australians who have made the most of their lives and become success stories instead of playing the “poor me” games. I cannot see what the end game is for those constantly pursuing for more recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, except for financial compensation, rights of land ownership and more free stuff. They got their public apologies and we are in the 21st century, how about we get over it and move on already.

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 12:30 pm 07 Jul 16

We’ve said “Sorry”, we make recognition of the Aboriginal community before every single public speech, what more can we do? They also get first dibs on job offers with the government, have an entire week devoted to their culture and a round of footy in their honor. When will it all end, when all non-indigenous Australians are serving them like slaves?
Are we sure that all these efforts to bridge the gap between black and white is not doing the opposite and driving a feeling of irritation into the community? Seeing the ongoing and relentless pleas for more and more, makes the aboriginal people look more like a welfare group that pushes for entitlements using the reasoning that they are a poor minority group.
There are thousands of minorities in Australia, but do they all jump up and down saying “Look at me, poor, poor me!”, in order to get something for nothing? We are now over 200 years beyond the first landing. Everyone in Australia is born with the same rights as everyone else. If people cannot make something out of their life because they feel victimized due to their skin colour, just have a look at the variety of wealthy folks in our country and the diversity of their backgrounds. There is no longer a hate mentality against Aboriginals, it is only a hate of people who won’t do anything to help themselves but insist on the bleeding heart sob story of their poor upbringing as an excuse to get handouts.

John Moulis John Moulis 11:09 am 07 Jul 16

Masquara said :

What would “Reconciliation Day” be celebrating, precisely?

Surely, by its nature, if reconciliation has occurred, then reconciliation can be forgotten. It isn’t something that can be permanently put in the calendar.

I strongly suspect that many (if not most) who use this word, “reconciliation”, do not have any kind of reconciliation in mind but are instead playing a very different tune on a dog whistle.

Reminds me of a letter to the editor in The Australian in the 1980s which asked why we have National Aborigines Day “because we don’t have National White Person’s Day”. A few days later someone replied and said “Yes we do, 365 days a year”.

Masquara Masquara 7:33 pm 06 Jul 16

How about a Gratitude Day instead, where we ALL reflect on how lucky we are to live in Australia where we are largely protected from terrorism, have socialised medicine, a generous welfare net, sunshine and good coffee.

Nightshade Nightshade 1:59 pm 06 Jul 16

KentFitch said :

I would rather Family and Community Day was renamed and/or moved than a holiday that is shared with other States. Lots of people move here from interstate and a common holiday is a good opportunity to travel to see family.

I like that Family and Community Day is a Canberra thing, like Canberra Day. There’s nothing to stop you travelling interstate on that day (especially given that it is usually in ACT school holidays), or if that is inconvenient, Labour Day comes a couple of weeks later.

My point is that it’s good to have the opportunity to visit interstate family/friends when they are having a holiday too. That gives a particular value to holidays that are common to multiple states (e.g. Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day), which would be lost by the ACT moving one to a different date. Feedback on the issue has been requested, and that will be my feed back.

gizmo1 gizmo1 1:40 pm 06 Jul 16

hahahahahahahaha

madelini madelini 10:30 am 06 Jul 16

KentFitch said :

I would rather Family and Community Day was renamed and/or moved than a holiday that is shared with other States. Lots of people move here from interstate and a common holiday is a good opportunity to travel to see family.

I like that Family and Community Day is a Canberra thing, like Canberra Day. There’s nothing to stop you travelling interstate on that day (especially given that it is usually in ACT school holidays), or if that is inconvenient, Labour Day comes a couple of weeks later.

It’s about the Canberra community. At least, it is now that it’s no longer associated with Melbourne Cup.

Mysteryman Mysteryman 10:27 am 06 Jul 16

Masquara said :

What would “Reconciliation Day” be celebrating, precisely?

Surely, by its nature, if reconciliation has occurred, then reconciliation can be forgotten. It isn’t something that can be permanently put in the calendar.

I strongly suspect that many (if not most) who use this word, “reconciliation”, do not have any kind of reconciliation in mind but are instead playing a very different tune on a dog whistle.

Yeah, I have to agree with this. I would love to see true reconciliation. But it seems there are significant obstacles to overcome still with attitudes on both sides of the issue. I can’t see that having another public holiday and calling it “Reconciliation Day” is going to make much positive difference.

HenryBG HenryBG 8:27 am 06 Jul 16

What would “Reconciliation Day” be celebrating, precisely?

Surely, by its nature, if reconciliation has occurred, then reconciliation can be forgotten. It isn’t something that can be permanently put in the calendar.

I strongly suspect that many (if not most) who use this word, “reconciliation”, do not have any kind of reconciliation in mind but are instead playing a very different tune on a dog whistle.

rosscoact rosscoact 5:39 am 06 Jul 16

Another holiday and one that has significant meaning to a section of the population which has the least?

Hell yeah. Let’s include it as a referendum question. Let people show their true colours (no pun intended).

rommeldog56 rommeldog56 11:10 pm 05 Jul 16

madelini said :

How about ACT Labor/Greens just run Canberra and make us some money instead of loosing and wasting it.

Do you have try everything failed Queensland Labor does ? Because changing public holidays worked
so well in Queensland.

Do ACT politicians have their own brain to think for themselves.

Why would it need a public holiday ?

What else are all these MLAs/Ministers going to do with their time anyway ? Apart from dreaming up new taxes, rates, charges, levies, etc to impose on ACT Ratepayers/voters, of course. This sort of bright idea/thought bubble is a taste of things to come after the ACT Legislative Assembly election in October, I suspect. I didnt even know that the territory was large enough to have its own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs minister.

I reckon we also should have a “fluffy puppy” day public holiday in support of mans best friend too ! And maybe one to commemorate the Sky Whale, another public holiday on the day that the tram makes its first journey, etc.

Nightshade Nightshade 11:08 pm 05 Jul 16

I would rather Family and Community Day was renamed and/or moved than a holiday that is shared with other States. Lots of people move here from interstate and a common holiday is a good opportunity to travel to see family. Personally, I would be really annoyed if the Queen’s Birthday holiday were moved, which isn’t really getting off to a good start.

Chris Bourke’s Facebook page has details for providing feedback: To have your say, visit http://www.timetotalk.act.gov.au – submissions close Friday 8 July, so get in quick!

No_Nose No_Nose 10:56 pm 05 Jul 16

Deref said :

Its a pitty they see the need to think at all, they should just do what’s best for the people and what the people want.

‘What’s best for the people’ and ‘What the people want’ are seldom the same thing!

gooterz gooterz 9:16 pm 05 Jul 16

madelini said :

How about ACT Labor/Greens just run Canberra and make us some money instead of loosing and wasting it.

Do you have try everything failed Queensland Labor does ? Because changing public holidays worked
so well in Queensland.

Do ACT politicians have their own brain to think for themselves.

Its a pitty they see the need to think at all, they should just do what’s best for the people and what the people want.

A government should champion the people’s ideas. Not try to come up with their own at the cost of the people.

gazket gazket 8:48 pm 05 Jul 16

How about ACT Labor/Greens just run Canberra and make us some money instead of loosing and wasting it.

Do you have try everything failed Queensland Labor does ? Because changing public holidays worked
so well in Queensland.

Do ACT politicians have their own brain to think for themselves.

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 8:27 pm 05 Jul 16

No offence but nobody really cares what the majority (if not all) of public holidays are actually for. Call it whatever you like as long as we get the day off. Melbourne Cup day (as Family and Community Day) was a good one because it’s November and starting to warm up.

MERC600 MERC600 5:38 pm 05 Jul 16

Have thought for a while now that there should be some recognition given to those first convicts transported to this country. Perhaps for them a rebadged holiday also.
It was from their hard toil that this country started to evolve.

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