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National Reconciliation Week

From 25 May to 3 June 2020, the University held online events so our communities could learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Official Opening Ceremony

Monday 25 May, 9.30-10am
Zoom webinar

We began National Reconciliation Week with a Welcome to Country, delivered by Uncle Craig Madden from Bundjalung Gadigal land. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison introduced us to some of the events and key themes of the week.

The ceremony closed with a performance from the Barayagal Choir from the Conservatorium of Music. Singers and musicians from Sydney's Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities and the University of Sydney community came together to sing songs of reconciliation. 

'Listened fearless' , a National Sorry Day podcast

‘We keep trying because Elders like Mum Shirl kept trying, and they told others to keep trying.’

Telling a story of synchronicity, being at the right place at the right time and getting the reinforcement to keep working despite the challenges, this podcast connects Stolen Generations issues, work and family life in contemporary Australia.

Held every year in Australia on May 26, National Sorry Day acknowledges Stolen Generations and their experiences as a result of past policies and practices in Australia.

This podcast has been produced by the University's National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC). It is a reflection on a poem about Wiradjuri woman Mum Shirl, known for her efforts supporting Aboriginal people, many of whom were Stolen Generations and their descendants.

Eloise Schnierer, a Watego from the Bryon Bay area, introduces the podcast with an Acknowledgement to Country. The main speaker is Wiradjuri researcher Megan Williams, Research Lead and Assistant Director at the NCCC. She tells a story about being given the poem and being inspired by Mum Shirl.

Didgeridoo is by Wiradjuri man Mark Williams from Jali Yarabil Tree Song, with clapsticks by Wiradjuri young fella Balin Williams, both who also speak.

Listen to the podcast (9:54 minutes)

Uluru Statement from the Heart

Wednesday 27 May, 12.30-1pm
Zoom webinar

Hear Thomas Mayor, an author and Torres Strait Islander man born on Larrakia country in Darwin, as he recites the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations people to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. The statement calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission that would supervise a process of agreement-making with Australian governments.

The recital of the statement will be followed by a discussion with Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Professor Duncan lvison and Thomas Mayor.

The event will conclude with a performance from the Barayagal Choir from the Conservatorium of Music.

Sydney Ideas: 'In this together'

'In this together' – the theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 - is now resonating in ways we could not have foreseen. Join Professor Jaky Troy and defence lawyer and human rights activist Teela Reid as they discuss reconciliation, unfinished business and reckoning.

While much has changed since the early days of the reconciliation movement, there is still a long way to go before we can claim to be a truly reconciled country. So how do we get there?

Listen to the podcast

Culture Forum: Openness and Engagement

Tuesday 2 June

Why do we value openness and engagement? Hear from University of Sydney experts at this special Culture Forum to hear about how we can contribute to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community.

The panel discusses the values of openness and engagement in the context of the destruction of an ancient cultural site at Juukan Gorge, the mass protests in the US against systemic racism and COVID-19’s implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Moderated by Culture Strategy Director Professor Tim Soutphommasane, the panel features University of Sydney staff:

  • Professor Jakelin Troy, Director of Indigenous Research, Research Portfolio
  • Liam Harte, Director of Indigenous External Relationship Development, Indigenous Strategy and Services Portfolio
  • Vita Christie, Program Manager, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Sydney Medical School
  • Professor Simon Bronitt, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Law School

Watch the webinar recording

Demystifying the 'Acknowledgement of Country'

What is the purpose of a 'welcome' or 'acknowledgment' of country? What are the different ways of doing this? Tune in to hear from our staff about the different ways you can personalise your own 'Acknowledgement' to pay respect to the land in which you live and work.

Useful resources

Demystifying the 'Acknowledgement of Country'

Acknowledgement of Country

The Dean and Head of Sydney Law School, pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land.

Why Mabo Day matters

Wednesday 3 June

In May 1982, a group of Meriam le, Eddie Koiki Mabo, Rev. David Passi, Celuia Mapoo Salee, Sam Passi and James Rice began their legal claim for the ownership of their islands, Mer, Waier and Dauar island in the eastern Torres Strait. After a failed Qld government challenge in the late 80s, in June 1992 the High Court of Australia found in favour of Meriam le, thus recognising native title and ending the myth of terra nullius.

The decision, known to many as the Mabo decision, told the rest of Australia what Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders already knew - ‘Always was, always will be…’

In celebrating 3 June 1992 we discuss the topic of 'Why Mabo Day matters', highlighting the ongoing significance of this decision and its aftermath. The panel consists of:

Indigenous Grasslands for Grains sculpture

Sculpture project launch

Our Grasses for Grains ground-breaking research at Narrabri in Northern NSW is focussed on using Australia’s native grasses to produce grains that are more sustainable than the traditional grains brought in from overseas. Led by Narrabri research scientist Dr Angela Pattinson, the work looks at environmental sustainability, indigenous land management, climate change, and the urban verse regional debate.

We have brought together experts from the University community to create a sculpture to represent this research and spark delate about innovation and sustainability. The collaboration consists of Dr Angela Pattinson, Michael Mossman from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney alumnus Richard Leplastrier and a young Indigenous architect, Jack Gillmer.

The sculpture project will launch during National Reconciliation Week, with the installation starting in September and completion set for the end of 2020.

Native Grasses for Grains

Dr Angela Pattinson shares her research into using native Australian grasses to produce grains.

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