National Reconciliation Week – What it means to me

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated on 27 May to 3 June and is flanked by National Sorry Day on 26 May, and Mabo Day on the 3 June.

The theme “Be Brave. Make Change” is a call to all Australians and organisations to be bold and take brave actions in our daily lives to achieve reconciliation.

To mark the occasion, DCA’s Simone Empacher Earl shares what the week means to her as an Aboriginal woman.

Over to Simone …

“For me, National Reconciliation Week is a time to reflect on our country’s past and come together as a community, to seek the truth and make the necessary changes to prevent historical atrocities from happening again. It is a time to reinforce relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples so we can walk together, equally.

“I am a proud Awabakal woman with connections to the Wonnarua and Darkinjung Nations.  My son was born on Wangal Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation. My partner, my son’s father, is African and grew up during the Apartheid. My family certainly are an assortment of cultures blending together, and this is why National Reconciliation Week resonates within us as a time of coming together, healing, supporting each other and being proud of who we are.

“So, who are we?

“Well, my great grandmother was taken from her mother when she was just a young girl and was placed in a household as a ‘house maid’. Her brother was sent to Kinchela Boys Home. They never saw each other again. As much as we have tried to find that side of our family that history is currently lost to me. I tell my son as much as I know and immerse him in community in the hope that it helps him connect to his ancestors and his culture.

“I myself was born not long after the 1967 referendum, when the constitution finally recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of the Australian population.

“Since then, I’ve grown up living between two worlds; simultaneously learning how to be proud of my Aboriginal culture, but also hiding it from the predominately white, Western community that I grew up in.

“I didn’t openly identify until I was in my late 20s for fear of shame, ridicule and lack of understanding from others. For my son, things are now different. He is proud and he speaks his truth. He chooses to walk in both worlds openly and with confidence. He will enthusiastically tell people he is Aboriginal and is beginning to educate those who will listen about our people’s past, but also about our connection to community and Country.

“This year the theme for NRW is ‘Be Brave. Make Change’. It is a time to stand up and support our community – so we are all stronger together.”

Read Gari Yala for more experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.

See more dates on the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander event calendar.