National Reconciliation Week – a time for truth-telling

Indigenous Australia article written on the 31 May 2021

National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) is a time for all Australians to learn about and celebrate the heritage, culture and contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make to Australia’s present and future. It’s also a time to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

A crucial part of the reconciliation process is hearing First Peoples’ stories and acknowledging the truth about their experiences. This process is essential for healing and justice for First Peoples.

In acknowledgement of this, The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria — established in an historic first in 2019 as the elected voice for Aboriginal people and communities in future Treaty discussions — has supported the Victorian Government to launch a truth and justice commission.

Ngarra Murray, Oxfam’s First Peoples’ Program National Manager and member of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, says: “The establishment of the Yoo-rrook (Truth) Justice Commission by the Victorian Government is an opportunity for both the Aboriginal community and the broader Victorian community to begin to listen to each other and create a new relationship going forward.

“Our people will no longer have to carry the pain of our stories alone – our history and our truths become everyone’s history and truths. With this understanding, real change is urgent and inevitable. The burden is lessened and the healing can begin.

“We know only too well the trauma that telling our stories can open up, and we need this Commission to ensure that it creates a culturally safe space that supports First Peoples to do so. The findings from the commission will help guide us on our path to treaty. From here it is up to the commissioners to ensure that Community, from every corner of the state, is listened to and finally heard.”

Listen to Ngarra Murray’s maiden speech in the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria in August 2020.

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