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Commemorating Reconciliation Week

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce made headlines when he stepped into the Pool of Reflection in the Member’s Hall at Parliament House to assist an Aboriginal elder who had slipped during a ceremony to mark the 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.

While both the elder and Barnaby’s boots escaped injury, the seriousness of the celebration has not been overlooked, with the event launching the start of Reconciliation Week, which runs officially from 27th of May until the 3rd of June. 

This week encompasses two milestones in our country’s journey to reconciliation – the 27th of May 1967 referendum, where an unprecedented 90.77 per cent of Australian’s voted ‘yes’ to include Aboriginal Australians as part of the population, and the handing down on the landmark ‘Mabo’ case on 3rd of June, 1992 which removed terra nullis from Australian Law and lead to the enactment of the 1993 Native Title Act. This year is especially significant as it marks both the 50 year and 25 year anniversaries of the Referendum and Mabo respectively.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Nationals MLC Sarah Mitchell has this week launched new resources for primary school teachers allowing them to better engage students with the history of the 1967 Referendum and subsequent impact of the decision.

“Marking 50 years, it is a significant milestone to examine how far we have come from the 1967 Referendum and the work that continues to be done by governments, communities and individuals,” Sarah said.

Reconciliation Week and associated events hold a special place in Nationals hearts – not only do Nationals MPs represent more Aboriginal people than any other party, but we also hold the honour of having the first Indigenous MP elected to state parliament as a member of the National Party.

Mr Eric Deeral MP represented the seat of Cook, a Labor stronghold, from 1974-1977. Born on a mission in Hope Vale, Mr Deeral was largely self-educated. During his time in office, he sought not only advocate for better conditions for Aboriginal people but far-north Queenslanders in general, pointing out that he considered himself ‘an Australian from Queensland’. His maiden speech highlighted his belief that inclusion was the way forward for all Australians. Mr Deeral passed away on December 11th, 2012 in Hope Vale at the age of 80, heralded as a trail-blazer and gentleman.

Engage with Reconciliation Week on social media by using the hashtag #nrw2017.

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