Message from the Deputy Secretary and Head of AANSW – 2019 National Week of Healing
I’m writing to you ahead of one of the most significant weeks of the year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, commencing with National Sorry Day this Sunday, followed by the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum on Monday and Mabo Day on 3 June. Of course, the entire week from 27 May to 3 June is National Reconciliation Week, the theme for which is Grounded in Truth - Walk Together with Courage.
When I reflect on the milestones of this week, I am filled equally with melancholy and hope. Melancholy for the harm done to our communities, cultures and way of life over the past 230 years. And hope from the knowledge that we can achieve the impossible when we do walk together and courageously speak our truth.
I know at times we are all confronted with the enormity of the challenges some of our communities face. In those moments it is important to find what it is that gives you strength and courage. For me, that means spending time with some of the most courageous people I know – Stolen Generations survivors – who dedicate their lives to telling their truth, every single day. Their example inspires me to keep working harder to be the change we need to see.
Our history is full of truth tellers. They are the heroes who paved the way for their movements. It is because of them that we have our Native Title laws, the Bringing Them Home and Unfinished Business reports and Sorry Day. National Reconciliation Week is a time for everyone who calls Australia home to reflect on the critical role of our truth tellers in creating a more just nation.
By upholding our core values of truth, recognition and yindyamarra / winangali, everyone working in Aboriginal Affairs is contributing to a more just and unified Australia. Every day, we work alongside both communities and governments to bring about change. In the last few months, we have supported the first ever statement at the opening of a NSW Parliament to recognise Aboriginal culture and heritage; negotiated significant agreements that are resetting relationships between government and local communities; delivered the inaugural NSW Aboriginal Languages Gathering; worked closely with communities and partner agencies on a host of critical issues; and supported Stolen Generations’ survivors to continue their important work. By working together with a clear sense of purpose, we truly are changing the way people think about, and work with, Aboriginal communities in NSW, and in doing so are setting a solid foundation for true reconciliation.
In the coming week, I hope you take the time to reflect on those who have come before us. Draw on their example as your strength to continue the critical work you are doing to create a unified future, in which we all understand, value and respect each other.
Deputy Secretary and
Head of Aboriginal Affairs NSW