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A Reconciliation Day in ACT?

By Michael Reid - 5 July 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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