Reconciliation: More than just a weekJune 1, 2018
During National Reconciliation Week The Junction Neighbourhood Centre (The JNC) demonstrated our ongoing commitment to reconciliation.
Barbara O’Neill, The JNC’s Aboriginal Community Worker, said: “At The Junction Neighbourhood Centre we realise that reconciliation is about acknowledging the injustices of the past and taking responsibility for it, and about moving into the future with the social justice approach. It’s about working together with the Aboriginal community”.
Learning from the people in our community
This year’s Reconciliation Week theme, “Don’t make history a mystery”, reinforces the importance of learning from the people in our community.
The JNC started the week by holding a lunch with local Aboriginal community members in Maroubra, and listening to their stories.
Staff attended the Koojay Corroboree at Coogee Beach, where traditional Aboriginal dancers performed a ceremonial dance. There were fire displays and dance and didgeridoo playing performances. Some of the performers were students from local schools.
After the Corroboree, Josh Tierney, The JNC’s Community Capacity Building Coordinator, presented a talk to JNC staff in honour of Mabo Day on June 3. Josh shared the efforts of Eddie Koiki Mabo to overturn the ongoing injustice originating with British seizure of the land on arrival in Australia, without agreement or payment. His address included the reminder by Professor Tom Calma AO of
“ the need to build stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians that are based on honesty, acknowledgment and understanding (from the Mabo Oration, 2009)
JNC staff ran a Great Book Swap in support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Donations help fund the Foundation’s Book Supply Programs that reaches over 250 remote communities.
The JNC’s final Reconciliation Week event on 1 June was the presentation to staff by JNC General Manager Janet Green of The JNC’s Statement of Apology and Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
This reads, in part:
The Junction Neighbourhood Centre is committed to strengthening our community and recognises that in order to achieve this we must build better relationships with the first peoples of Australia, based on recognition of, and respect for, the many diverse Indigenous languages and cultures of this Country.
We recognise that this Country was and always will be Aboriginal land, and has never been ceded. Aboriginal Culture has endured and is globally recognised as one of the world’s oldest living Cultures. We believe Indigenous peoples have the right to be proud of their cultural heritage and to continue their cultural practices and beliefs. We recognise and understand the importance of connection to kinship, Community and Country for First Nations Peoples.
We understand that recognition of, and respect for, the Indigenous Cultures of this country must include coming to terms with a history marked by racism, dispossession of land, oppression of peoples and Aboriginal Culture, slave labour and stolen wages, the deliberate degradation of language and the forced removal of children.
The Junction Neighbourhood Centre holds social justice as a core value and seeks to build a future based on mutual respect and shared responsibility for our community and for this land. We acknowledge that we are on Gadigal land. We acknowledge the wrongs committed both past and present. We believe that the high rates of incarceration, suicide, infant mortality and homelessness suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples reflect the discrimination that persists in this country today.
We celebrate the outstanding achievements of First Nations People in the arts, academia, sport, health, politics and in strengthening communities. …”
Staff and Board members are currently signing this Statement.
Throughout the year
The JNC’s commitment to learning from and working with with the Aboriginal community is ongoing – and endures more than a single week a year. Throughout the year we continue our commitment to ongoing work with the local Aboriginal community through casework, support, assisted referral and community programs and groups