Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reconciliation Week Roundup... my gratefuls

Without doubt, National Reconciliation Week 2012 must go down on record as the most successful to date, with over 500 events organised across the nation, individuals and whole communities talking about recognition, and major steps forward taken in uniting us as Australians.

I remain proud to have been part of the official program last week, engaging with and enabling others to be part of the conversation in a few ways. I just want to note below those I remain grateful to for sharing the journey with me, and helping to facilitate intelligent and often personal dialogue. I must also note, how impressed I was to see such a groundswell of support on social media sites like Twitter and I thank all those who shared, tweeted, retweeted and linked during the week. You guys rock.

More specifically, I’d like to express my gratitude for the following:
My guest bloggers: I’m extremely grateful not only for the time my guest bloggers offered last week, but more importantly their very personal opinions and experiences when it comes to reconciliation and recognition. I was grateful also that I could quote them along the way as I spoke to audiences about the importance of the movement, which I believe is the most powerful grassroots movement this country has ever seen. If you missed the blogs, you can read them now and still be inspired (let’s face it, Reconciliation should be considered everyday!). Check out educator and blogger Luke  Luke Pearson, storyteller Jessica Rudd, Olympian Patrick Johnson, workers’ rights activist Jill Biddington, and poet /performer Steven Oliver. Be sure and share their words with other you think may be inspired, or indeed, may need to hear them!

ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate: I must admit that I hadn’t even heard of the ACT JACS Directorate before my invitation to speak as part of NRW, but boy was I impressed to get to know some of the massive team. On a chilly Canberra afternoon, staff from across the agency and the city came along to hear what Reconciliation means to me. The audience included a range of staff with everyone from ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner Helen Watchirs (pictured with me above) to Corrective Services Officers (okay so I thought the uniforms were cops but I was wrong), and collectively they provided a pleasant reminder of the breadth of reach the Reconciliation movement has today. A shout out to Oliver Kickett (pictured above), Senior Policy Officer and Co-Chair of the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group for coordinating the event, and extending the invitation. Too deadly brother.

666ABC Canberra: A quick spin along Nortbourne Avenue and I was in the 666ABC studios with the fab broadcaster Louise Maher  (pictured above). Can I tell you how much more meaningful an interview is when those asking the questions HAVE READ THE BOOK?! That’s why love dropping into the Canberra station, the conversation is always valuable and respectful. I was grateful also to be able to share the positive things in regards to Reconciliation with the local listeners. As we say, every time people come to care and share the conversation, the Reconciliation process takes a step forward. We took a few steps that day, I’m sure.

Then, as a bonus, outside the studio I met the gorgeous Gail Mabo (pictured below), daughter of the late Eddie Koiki Mabo and quite simply, a beautiful spirit. Also here was Mus Bano! I left smiling big!

Australian National University: A quick frock change after the ABC, I was standing in a theatre of the Manning Clark Centre at the ANU yarning about Reconciliation, education and identity. I quickly relaxed with the 200 members of the audience who’d ventured out into the chilly Canberra. I was thrilled to see family members (that’s my cousin Sharon below), lecturers of mine from two decades ago, teachers from schools I have worked in, unmet friends from Twitter and Facebook, and other every day citizens wanting to be part  of the journey. It was an extraordinary night for me, and for that I’m grateful to the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre headed by Peter Radoll and to Lucy Wedlock for coordinating my travel. Also, a shoutout to the gorgeous staff from the Coop Bookshop who came along and sold copies of Am I Black Enough for You?

Trinity Grammar School, Melbourne: Following my event at the Wheeler Centre in April  , I was invited by TGS to speak at their Dadirri Reconciliation Dinner on June 4. I’m always overwhelmed with a sense of hope and peace when I visit schools that easily and effectively embrace Reconciliation, social justice and a basic respect for all of society. And so demonstrated the TGS school community –students, teachers, parents – came along not only to hear me speak, but also to share the experiences of Miriam Yirrininba and Mervyn Brown from ARDS in the Northern Territory. It was interesting for all of us to see the extreme differences in lifestyle between Miriam and I, but how we the shared values and desires in improving the lot of our mobs. Kudos Andrew Rice for pulling it all together, including catering by Mark Olive. And congratulations to all the students who choose be part of the Reconciliation group at TGS. Finally, thank you to Will Macafee, a budding Year 7 photographer, who has got the arty thing going. He also took fabulous shots of yours truly, but my hair was so tragic I can’t post them here.


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