WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains the names of people who have passed away.
National Reconciliation Week’s 2021 theme is—"More than a word. Reconciliation takes action". It’s clear that words and good intentions are not enough to erase racial disparity in this country—and because reconciliation is a journey for all Australians, that means actions from us all.
The week allows Australians—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—to learn about our shared histories and build relationships to further understand how we can positively contribute to achieving real reconciliation. But in doing so, it’s crucial to first and foremost amplify First Nations’ voices.
Running from today, Thursday 27 May, until Thursday 3 June, Reconciliation Week offers up plenty of ways to get involved and to begin your journey of education, empathy, and change.
From moving theatre and art to dedicated music festivals and thoughtful panel discussions, all featuring First Nations artists, community leaders, and academic experts—here are eight events you can attend during National Reconciliation Week.
The Virtual Indigenous Film Festival
In conjunction with this year’s National Reconciliation Week, the Virtual Indigenous Film Festival is bringing some of the best films produced by and starring First Nations artists to your screens. The festival, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, celebrates award-winning Australian films–including High Ground, starring Simon Baker, Jacob Junior Nayinggul and produced by Yothu Yindi founding member Witiyana Marika, and the visually stunning Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra. Each film shown during National Reconciliation Week will be followed by a live Q&A with filmmakers, community leaders, and cultural academics. Head to the website for the full festival line-up and to purchase tickets.
Yuin Byalla (Truth Talking) in Burramatta
RIVERSIDE THEATRE PARRAMATTA
National Reconciliation Week is a time for truth, reflection, and growth—which means conversations led by First Nations voices. "Yuin Byalla" (truth talking) will bring together key members, experts, and leaders from the First Nations community to discuss ideas and conversations around this year’s theme. The panel will also engage with the risk of climate change on Aboriginal communities and their historical and continued connection to the land. Speakers will include award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe, astronomer Karlie Noon, and Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth-led climate network. You can buy tickets for the talk right here.
The 7 Stages Of Grieving
Sydney Theatre Company
The Seven Stages of Grieving depicts what it means to be an Aboriginal woman in contemporary Australia. First produced in 1995, Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman wrote the iconic Australian play, which sadly remains as relevant as ever today. Guided by resident director Shari Sebbens, the Sydney Theatre Company one-woman show transports audiences through the seven phases of Aboriginal history: Dreaming, Invasion, Genocide, Protection, Assimilation, Self-Determination, and Reconciliation.
Starring Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara actress Elaine Crombie, Enoch and Mailman have updated the inspiring and joyful production to reflect what has changed since it first opened 26 years ago. The Seven Stages of Grieving is playing during National Reconciliation Week and until 19 June. Get your tickets here.
There We Were All In One Place
National Reconciliation Week marks your final chance to see There we were all in one place, the moving photography exhibition from Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar Baker. The UTS Gallery exhibition brings together 35 works spanning five photographic series created by the award-winning Melbourne-based photographer between 2016 - 2019. With access to her grandfather’s photography archives, blended together with modern imagery and intricate editing, the intimate and deeply personal works explore history, memory, and truth. You can check out the website for more information on the exhibition.
Different Colours One People Festival
REDFERN COMMUNITY CENTRE
In an event for one and all “Different Colours One People” celebrates Indigeneity, truth, story, culture, and song. Make your way to the Redfern Community Centre parkland on Saturday 29 May for a day of live performances showcasing and celebrating the artistry of First Nations, Pacific, Caribbean, African American, and POC communities in Sydney. Bring food and a picnic blanket, browse the fete stalls and enjoy the eclectic line-up of musicians headlined by PNG-Australian R&B, soul singer, Ngaiire. Tickets are free, but you need to register. See the website for the full program and set times.
Lunchtime Conversation Series: Politics And Activism
The Australian Museum's Lunchtime Conversation Series is back in 2021 to shed light on the stories and ground-breaking work of First Nations leaders and historical figures in various fields. Throughout May and June and over six sessions, leading activists, creatives and academics are sitting down in the Australian Museum Theatre to discuss trailblazers like Eddie Mabo, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and more.
To celebrate National Reconciliation Week on Tuesday 1 June, Distinguished Professor and Eualayai/Gamillaroi woman Larissa Behrendt AO will sit down with Wirdi man and Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel, Tony McAvoy. The pair will remember the 1967 Referendum and discuss Dr. Evelyn Scott, a key activist, and educator during the 1960s and 70s instrumental to Australia’s reconciliation journey, as well as the continued fight for ongoing constitutional reform. You can book tickets here.
Our Country, Our Future, Our Shared Responsibility
Helping kick off National Reconciliation Week is the free online event, “Our Country, Our Future, Our Responsibility”. Led by keynote speakers Aunty Judy Atkinson and Uncle Richard Frankland, the event will help celebrate and embrace Aboriginal culture and history as that of all Australians, bringing together inspiring visionaries and First Nations community leaders. Tune in to hear from former Sydney Swans great, Australian of the Year, and anti-racism activist Adam Goodes, and to watch a live smoking ceremony with Wurundjeri Elders. To finish things off in style, the program will end with a live performance from iconic musician Archie Roach. Register online here.
Kinchela Boys Home—Stolen Generation Mobile Education Centre
For the purpose of truth-telling, history, and healing, the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation is hosting Australia’s first Stolen Generations Mobile Education Centre at South Eveleigh. The KBHAC was established in 2003 by survivors of the Kinchela Boys Home, one of the most notorious institutions associated with Australia’s Stolen Generations. The Mobile Education centre, a converted commuter bus, allows communities to experience and engage with various resources–from oral testimonies and archival material to film and visual imagery–to better understand the devastating traumas felt today by those impacted and their descendants. Make sure you register online here.
Keen to educate yourself more this Reconciliation Week? Start with this piece penned for Urban List by Yorta Yorta writer Taneshia Atkinson.
Image credit: Jodie Choolburra Photography