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Culture and heritage

Insightful events to deepen your understanding this National Reconciliation Week

20 May 2024

Listen to expert speakers, walk in solidarity and discover books that can help us navigate turbulent times to mark this year’s National Reconciliation Week.

For the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung, Bunurong Boon Wurrung, Taungurong, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation, Melbourne has always been an important meeting place for social, educational, sporting and cultural events.

Join us at events across the city during National Reconciliation Week to deepen your understanding of our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to reconciliation.

About National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week begins and ends on two significant dates.

On 27 May 1967, more than 90 per cent of Australians voted to remove clauses in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

And on 3 June 1992 – Mabo Day – the High Court of Australia rejected terra nullius and recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Traditional Custodians of Australia for the first time.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2024 is ‘Now More Than Ever’, which is a reminder to us all that the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must continue.

Upcoming events that promote reconciliation

Here are some events happening in the City of Melbourne before and during National Reconciliation Week.

You can browse more events on the Reconciliation Australia events calendar.

The Long Walk
Saturday 25 May

In the lead up to National Reconciliation Week, join tens of thousands of Melburnians for the iconic ‘Long Walk’ to the MCG ahead of the Dreamtime Game.

Inspired by Michael Long’s walk to Canberra to get the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people back on the national agenda, The Long Walk is now a Melbourne Award winning charity doing great things.

“Our foundation is as much about empowering the Aboriginal community as it is about teaching non-Aboriginal people about our history, cultures and the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that has always existed among our people. There has been a lot of progress in the two decades since Michael first walked to Canberra, but there is still more to do.”

Leanne Brooke, Executive General Manager, The Long Walk
Head to Fed Square for live entertainment before The Long Walk
National Sorry Day
Sunday 26 May

National Sorry Day marks the anniversary of the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report in Federal Parliament.

This report was a result of a Federal inquiry into the policies that led to Aboriginal children’s removal from their families and communities in the 20th century. These children are known as the Stolen Generations.

On the eve of National Reconciliation Week, see Town Hall and Coles Fountain in the Parliament Garden lit in purple to mark National Sorry Day. We also project the symbolic native hibiscus on the pavement in front of Town Hall.

We’re working to create a Stolen Generations Marker, with guidance from our Stolen Generations Marker Working Group.

National Reconciliation Week Oration
Monday 27 Monday

On the first day of National Reconciliation Week, live stream this year’s oration by Ngarra Murray and Rueben Berg – co-chairs of the First People’s Assembly Victoria.

These two passionate leaders have been chosen by their communities to represent their hopes, needs and ideas on the journey to Treaty.

Ngarra is a Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dhudhuroa and Dja Dja Wurrung woman based in Melbourne. She is passionate about community mobilisation, nation building, and treaties.

Ngarra Murray

Rueben is a Gunditjmara man based in Melbourne. His vision is for all Indigenous Victorians to be fit, healthy and living meaningful lives, with the tools to continue to be the longest continuing culture in the world.

Rueben Berg

The oration will be livestreamed from around 1.15pm. A link to the livestream will be published on our National Reconciliation Week webpage in the lead-up to the event.

Previous National Reconciliation Week orations

Catch up on previous orations from Antoinette Braybrook and Briggs on our National Reconciliation Week webpage.

Deadly Books For Right Now
Thursday 30 May

Join acclaimed authors Claire G Coleman (Noongar) and Declan Fry (Yortan Yorta) as they discuss and read from treasured books that can help readers navigate the turbulent world of today.

This event is free, but bookings are essential. It will take place at narrm ngarrgu Library at 141 Therry Street in the Queen Victoria Market precinct from 6pm to 7pm.

Read more about the authors and reserve your seats.

Claire G Coleman and Declan Fry
Books to deepen your understanding

Expand your understanding of Aboriginal history, culture and achievement with this reading list for National Reconciliation Week. It features books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers that are available in our libraries.

Mabo Day Celebration
Saturday 1 June

Head to Meat Market in North Melbourne for a celebration of Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures for Mabo Day.

Curated by Meriam / Yidinji / Dutch creative Lisa Maza, this free community concert will be headlined by rap, hip-hop, spoken word and pop artist, Mau Power.

Mau Power

There will also be performances from Mui Mui Bumer Gedlam, John Wayne Parsons and Candice Lorrae of The Merindas.

Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen AM QC – writer, activist and lawyer on the ground-breaking Mabo case – will speak about Native Title.

Find out more and book tickets.

John Wayne Parsons

What we’re doing to promote reconciliation

The City of Melbourne has a broad reconciliation agenda, with truth-telling at its foundation.

We believe Aboriginal history and cultures should sit at the centre of Melbourne’s identity, and that Melbourne should be a truly inclusive city for Aboriginal people.

Although the 2023 referendum about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament resulted in a no vote, in the division of Melbourne electorate, 77 per cent of people voted yes. City of Melbourne councillors unanimously backed the yes campaign.

We believe that reconciliation benefits everyone, ensuring people have the same chances and choices in life, and enriching connections between First Nations and non-Indigenous people.

Here are some of the projects that our Aboriginal Melbourne team is leading:

Reconciliation Action Plan

We are developing our sixth Reconciliation Action Plan, informed by community feedback. The plan is about deepening our understanding of Aboriginal people, celebrating First Nations heritage and culture, and elevating Aboriginal voices.

The plan will focus on five themes – relationships, respect, opportunities, governance and truth-telling – and outline our next steps on the path to reconciliation, converting good intentions into clear actions.

Learn more about the Reconciliation Action Plan.

Stolen Generations Marker

Peppercorn Lawn in the Alexandra Gardens on Wurundjeri Country has been selected as the location for a Stolen Generations Marker, which will reaffirm our commitment to truth-telling and reconciliation.

The marker is being developed with close guidance from a working group that includes Stolen Generations survivors, their descendants, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners and key organisations.

Learn more about the Stolen Generations Marker.

“The marker will be a place for reflection, healing and education. These are important steps for Melbourne on its journey towards truth-telling, reconciliation and healing.”

Sharina Ladharam, Aboriginal Community Engagement and Events Officer
Sharina Ladharam
Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne

Explore places of Aboriginal cultural significance through our interactive map – a powerful truth-telling tool that reveals Aboriginal peoples’ deep connection to Country.

Visit the interactive map.

New First Nations Committee

We’re establishing a First Nations Committee to advise on the City of Melbourne’s work by providing advice on initiatives that impact First Nations communities. Committee members will be announced soon.

Learn more about the First Nations Committee.

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