Reconciliation Week

Each year, National Reconciliation Week is celebrated from 27 May–3 June.

Reconciliation Week is a national campaign celebrating and building on respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other Australians. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the successful 1967 referendum (27 May) and the 1992 High Court Mabo decision (3 June).

The national theme for 2018 is ‘Don't Keep History a Mystery’. To learn more about the history of reconciliation in Queensland we invite you to view ‘A Shared Journey Towards Reconciliation’.

Get involved

We encourage you to attend a local event near you or even host your own event. Whether your activity is big or small, think about how you can get your friends, neighbourhood and community involved. Each community is different, so think of an activity that is meaningful and appropriate to your location.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • use the National Reconciliation Week events calendar to find an event in your local area
  • contact a local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation and enquire about planned events within your local community that you can participate in
  • hold a flag raising ceremony using the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags
  • host an event such as a morning tea to commemorate reconciliation week and invite a local Indigenous member from your community to speak and screen ‘A Shared Journey Towards Reconciliation’.

Significant dates

Reconciliation Week acknowledges and commemorates significant dates on Australia’s journey towards reconciliation – National Sorry Day, the 1967 Referendum and Mabo Day.

National Sorry Day

Sorry Day acknowledges the impacts of the forced removal and separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children—known as the Stolen Generations—from their families, communities and country. The National Inquiry into the Stolen Generations resulted in the 1997 ‘Bringing them Home’ Report, which outlined 54 recommendations—the National Apology being just one of these recommendations. The report was tabled in Federal Parliament on 26 May 1997.

The launch of the report, which detailed painful evidence of the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, was an event that shook Australia.

1967 Referendum

The first day of National Reconciliation Week, 27 May, marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw more than 90% of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census. This day is remembered as a historic act of reconciliation toward Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.

Torres Strait Islander flag

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Bernard Namok of Thursday Island. The flag symbolises the unity and identity of all Torres Strait Islanders. The Torres Strait Islander flag was flown for the first time on 29 May 1992. The flag was recognised by the former national body, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and given equal prominence with the Aboriginal flag.

Mabo Day

The final day of Reconciliation Week, 3 June, is Mabo Day. On this day in 1992, the High Court of Australia overturned the principle of ‘terra nullius’ or ‘vacant land’ as claimed by the British when they first arrived in this country. Mabo Day commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark decision, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonialisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title. Read more about Eddie Mabo.

Queensland Government and reconciliation

The Queensland Government is working on a number of initiatives as an act of reconciliation.

  • The Celebrating Reconciliation Small Grants Program encourages all Queenslanders to participate in local reconciliation events in or around National Reconciliation Week.
  • The Queensland Reconciliation Awards recognises businesses, community organisations, educational institutions and partnerships that are taking positive steps towards reconciliation across Queensland.
  • The Queensland Museum Repatriation Fund - the Queensland Government contributed $100,000, alongside $50,000 from the Queensland Museum, to establish this fund to enable the Queensland Museum to conduct a proactive and culturally appropriate repatriation program.
  • The announcement of the closure of the Aborigines Welfare Fund, in response to the Stolen Wages Taskforce recommendations report.

More information