Reconciliation Week

Comprehension Activities

Reconciliation Australia: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/
Alanna’s National Reconciliation Week primary school resources (sign up for free, then access): https://www.narragunnawali.org.au/curriculum-resource/197/lets-talk-about-the-theme-for-nrw-2022-primary
AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia: https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/map-indigenous-australia
The Uluru Statement from the Heart: https://ulurustatement.org/
Squiz Kids for Schools Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/squizkids.forschools/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SquizKidsForSchools


It’s a complicated concept with a simple goal: a better Australia. This is your Squiz Kids Shortcut to Reconciliation —the podcast where we dive into the who, what, when, where, why and how of the big news stories. I’m Amanda Bower.

And today, Bryce Corbett isn’t here! Instead – and to mark National Reconciliation Week – my cohost is Alanna Raymond. Alanna is a primary school teacher and an Aboriginal Australian — her Dad’s country is in the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin… they’re saltwater people from the Top End. Now, that would already make her a fantastic person to talk to about National Reconciliation Week, but for the last 2 and a half years, she’s also worked for Reconciliation Australia! Alanna, welcome to Squiz Kids …

Thanks so much for having me Amanda, and I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise that we’re recording this podcast on what always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

Today, Alanna’s going to talk us through WHAT reconciliation is, WHY we have National Reconciliation Week; and HOW kids can contribute.

Listen carefully – there’s a Squiz at the end!
Hey, have you done this before?

Now Alanna, if you look up “reconcile” in the dictionary, it basically means to restore friendly relations between two people or groups… if you have an argument with a friend and then you make up, you’ve reconciled. Why do we need to have reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians?

Well, it’s really important to go back before we think about going forward. The history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country stretches back over 60,000 years. That’s a very big number. I’ve tried to count it out with those little maths cubes and it’s really hard.

Oh my goodness! That is a LOT of cubes.

When settlers came to Australia, that was only 250 years ago. That’s a smaller number.

That is a BIG difference in the amount of time spent in this country.

When the white settlers came to Australia, they didn’t understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their ways of living and being, and they didn’t respect their differences. And they did many things to them that weren’t right.

That’s putting it gently. Many Aboriginal people were killed, many got sick, and many were forced to leave their land.

And being told you can’t live on your land anymore would be hard for anyone, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a very strong connection to Country (and that’s Country with a capital C) – it’s part of our identity, our community, who you are in the community, our Languages.
And First Nations people didn’t get to fight back, choose where they were going, they didn’t have a say in how their Country would be looked after. They weren’t allowed to speak their language, weren’t allowed to go home, or visit the same places as other Australians. Basically they were judged for the colour of their skin and cultural background.

Now, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people didn’t just lose their land and their language. Many also lost their families… that’s what the Stolen Generations is about.

That’s right. Unfortunately not that long ago, around the time our grandparents were children, some non-Aboriginal people and governments decided that Aboriginal people couldn’t be good parents. They made laws where they could take Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children away, to a different place, to a new home, to new parents and families, with a different language. They wanted them to forget how to be Aboriginal and only learn how to be a white Australian.

How scary – to be taken away from your mum and dad, made to speak a new language, live a completely different life. How long did the kids have to stay away for?

It’s really awful as sometimes families were split apart forever. And these unfair policies or rules have caused great sadness and loss in so many families, and communities, and is still felt today.

Which is why reconciliation is so important.

It’s really important to acknowledge all those past wrongs , and that is part of the reason why we are doing reconciliation and working so hard. But it’s also important to recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still here, and are proud of our cultures. They make amazing contributions to our community, both in the past and now. We’ve got Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, teachers, lawyers, sports stars, doctors, musicians, scientists, artists, national park rangers, authors. We can look up to them as role models today. Maybe you’ve got an Aboriginal person who inspires you.
Oh yes, I’ve got a certain singer in mind, and a certain tennis player who’s recently retired… we’re all excited to see what she does next. Okay, so I understand that even if I haven’t had a personal argument with an Aboriginal friend, reconciliation is important. WHAT happens during Reconciliation Week?

Alanna, the theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week is “Be Brave, Make Change.” What does that mean?

Be Brave. Make Change is a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, organisations and government—to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians.

Speaking of change, we have a new Prime Minister who did make a change at his first press conference, and put the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags next to the Australian one. And Anthony Albanese has said that his government will make it a priority to implement something called the Uluru Statement from the Heart… that would mean holding a referendum, or vote, to change the Australian constitution so that indigenous people would have a permanent, protected voice to speak to government… which many see as an important part of reconciliation.

Well, there’s a LOT of work to be done before that might happen, and only grownups can vote. Let’s talk about HOW kids can do the important work of reconciliation.

The first step is formally acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this country – understanding what an Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country is, and how they are different.

So how are they different?
Well, it’s a bit like how you can welcome someone into your home, and let them use your things, but you can’t welcome someone in to a home that isn’t yours. You acknowledge it’s their home instead.
It’s also about understanding that there are many different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural groups, each with different protocols, Dreaming, customs and traditions, cultural knowledge and lore, family and kinship, and Languages. You can check out the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia to see all the different groups.

I’ll pop a link to that in your episode notes. That is a LOT of groups and a LOT of knowledge!

You don’t need to know exactly what that all of that knowledge is, as there’s soooo much, not even Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know all of it, and sometimes it’s sacred and not meant to be shared. But you can still know about it and have respect for it.

So I am living and working on Gadigal land, in Sydney. And when I moved here, I did some walks to learn about important places for the Gadigal, and how they took care of Sydney harbour to make sure they fished sustainably…

And that’s how you go beyond just acknowledging: knowing is great, but how do we turn the knowing into action. You can help care for the Country that you’re on. Pick up rubbish around environment, school, home, making sure it’s disposed of or recycled. Make sure the riverways and environment, the Country is kept clean and safe for both the people and the animals who live there. That’s always been so important to First Nations people.

And of course, we need to work on being a good friend to everyone.

Exactly. Being a good friend means respecting and actually celebrating our differences as people, being kind and helpful to all, and standing up for when things aren’t fair.

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening…
1. How long have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived on this Land?
2. Where is my Dad’s country… I’ll give you a hint, they’re saltwater people.
3. What’s one thing YOU are going to do towards Reconciliation this week?

There’s no correct answer to that, of course, but you can take a photo and post it to our Instagram and Facebook … we’d love to see! I’ll leave links in your episode notes. A special shout out this week to Richie Williams Wombuwuny Gibir, a Wiradjuri man whose original music you heard in this podcast.