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Vinnies marks National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week 2015

Vinnies is marking the occasion of National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) by ramping up our support for a referendum to officially recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution and reiterating the need for the government to involve the First Peoples in policy making decisions.

Vinnies Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said the historic meeting of 50 Indigenous leaders that took place in Broome on 20 May, 2015 had a clear message for the government from the leaders—ensure we are sitting at the table when decisions are made about us.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda attended the meeting and told ABC’s 7.30 that a referendum needed to be held sooner rather than later and that it would help address Indigenous disadvantage:

“It would change the relationship fundamentally between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the rest of the population. And these things have a way of translating into practical action. And I’m pretty sure – I’m extremely sure that would happen with the whole population getting to vote on recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were here before 1788.”

It’s time to change it up

The theme of National Reconciliation Week (NRW) this year is ‘It’s time to change it up’, which encourages people to take some fresh action to spark a change in their school, workplace and community—no matter how big or small.

The organisers of NRW said: “We’re changing it up by working to engage the next generation throughNarragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning, and we’re working to fix historical exclusion and end discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through Recognise.”

NRW commemorates two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful referendum held on 27 May, 1967 and the High Court Mabo decision handed down on 3 June, 1992.

Recognise campaign ramps up

Vinnies strongly supports the Recognise campaign in its work building support for a yes vote when a referendum is held to officially recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution.

Dr Falzon welcomed the results of a survey commissioned by the Recognise movement and released on 18 May 2015. Of the 2,700 people surveyed, 75 per cent said they would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum to change Australia’s Constitution. About two-thirds of those considered Conservative supporters said they would back the movement, along with nearly every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person polled

Vinnies believes that while Constitutional recognition will not erase these many forms of injustice, it is a matter of deep sadness and shame for us as a nation that we have not yet taken this important step in our national journey of recognising the historical truth and honouring the First Peoples.

A parliamentary inquiry conducted by the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is currently considering approaches to Constitutional change. It is expected to make its recommendations about the timing and nature of the referendum public on 30 June, 2015.

How can I get involved?

  • Learn more about Vinnies support for reconciliationand involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
  • During National Reconciliation Week (NRW), you can participate in lots of activities and events that focus on the value of recognition.
  • Share your NRW events and experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #NRW2015

Read our submissions

In its role of advocating for the rights of marginalised groups in the community the St Vincent de Paul Society regularly makes written submissions, or reports, to Members of Parliament, Government Inquiries and Independent Commissioners. The subject matter of these submissions ranges from Indigenous rights to the impact of rising electricity prices and from asylum seekers to the inadequacy of unemployment benefits, plus many more.

Read the submissions Vinnies has made to parliamentary inquiries on the following topics:

About Vinnies

St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation working towards a more just and compassionate society.

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