National Reconciliation Week 2024


National Reconciliation Week is a time when we learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements.

The theme for this year's National Reconciliation Week, held May 27 - June 3, was 'Now More Than Ever'. It's a reminder that the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must continue. The week is about seeking better outcomes for First Nations People.

National Reconciliation Week marks two events in the reconciliation journey - the 1967 Referendum (where Australians voted to change the Constitution so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be counted as part of the population and the Commonwealth would be able to make laws for them) and The Mabo Case.

Another key part of the week is National Sorry Day, which was held on Sunday May 26, 2024. It remembers the Stolen Generations - children who were taken from their families to be assimilated into white Australian society.

The Burdekin Association hosted a National Reconciliation Week event at our Marrickville office on Tuesday May 28, 2024. We acknowledged Country, enjoyed a Smoking Ceremony and ate delicious Indigenous food. We also had the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of Aunty Barb and Uncle Graham, our Aboriginal Mentors, and learn more about our new Aboriginal Unit and Burdekin's draft Reconciliation Action Plan.

Aunty Barb
Aunty Barbara (left) and Justene Gordon, CEO of The Burdekin Association (right).

"A Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is an opportunity for an organisation to look inwardly, understand and learn how further growth between an organisation and the Aboriginal community can be commenced and become entrenched in that organisation."

"It's really important that The Burdekin Association has a living RAP, as the message coming from the Board and the Senior Executive Team demonstrates that we are allied with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and that all of our actions and principles include the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

"With Burdekin, the foundations of the RAP are living - the staff are taken along the journey, and external and internal stakeholders are being respectfully  invited to participate."

- Aunty Barb, Proud Dhangatti Woman born on the Gadigal Country of the Eora Nation and Aboriginal Mentor at The Burdekin Association.

Why does the burdekin association have a rap?

At last count, 40,000 children and young people in Australia are living in Out of Home Care. Almost half of these are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

"The Burdekin Association's Aboriginal Unit is about healing. Administratively, we're working with teams and changing the way The Burdekin Association works with Aboriginal young people. As Aboriginal people, we're connecting with young Aboriginal people - we're going through an Indigenous healing process with them."

"Yarning is the biggest healing process that we have. Through yarning, we strengthen the sense of identity and the knowledge of identity within young people. It's very healing from a trans-generational perspective, having us here at The Burdekin Association. The Aboriginal young people are hungry for culture. They can't get enough of it. They intuitively know that there's something else out there," said Aunty Barbara

Uncle Graham, a descendant from the Wiradjuri and Wongaibon Aboriginal Nations of Western NSW studied a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies in 2010 and from that time on, committed his life to make change for young Aboriginal people.

Alongside Aunty Barb, Uncle Graham has been working with young Aboriginal people and also advising on certain aspects of First Nations culture for The Burdekin Association's Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), commenting and providing expert opinion on how other organisations have coordinated their RAPs and generally providing support to the RAP team by answering questions.

"It's been a great journey of mine to be a part of and live life as an Aboriginal person working around my people to improve their lives. It's a long journey, because there are many gaps and many ways that we can assist in improving the lifestyles of our people," said Uncle Graham.

As Reconciliation Australia states, "We all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation. We can play our part by building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, histories, cultures and futures."

Aunty Barb and Uncle Graham during the Smoking Ceremony.
Aunty Barb and Uncle Graham during the Smoking Ceremony.
Aunty Barb (left) Graham Bargwanna (middle) and Uncle Graham during a Q and A session as part of National Reconciliation Week.
Aunty Barb (left) Graham Bargwanna (middle) and Uncle Graham during a Q and A session as part of National Reconciliation Week.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people of the Cadigal and Gayamaygal Clans. We acknowledge the Country on which we live, work, and gather as being Aboriginal land.

We acknowledge the lands, waterways and skies that are connected to Aboriginal people. We honour them and pay our deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We respect their rightful place within our communities, and we value their ancient cultural knowledge and practices.

Aboriginal Flag
Torres Straight Island Flag

We deeply respect that this will always be Aboriginal land and we will honour and follow the first peoples’ values in caring for the Country and for preserving their culture.

We deeply value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living culture in the world and we will continue to work with their peoples and communities to ensure their cultures endure and remain strong.