PME Resources

National Reconciliation Week: 27 May - 03 June

By Peter Ross May 18, 2020


Each year, the Army celebrates two major Indigenous cultural events – National Reconciliation Week (NRW) 27 May - 03 June and NAIDOC week, which is usually held on 05 - 12 July (although this year NAIDOC week has been postponed due to COVID19).

NRW is a time to learn about the shared history of Australia and to explore how each of us can contribute to bringing people together, whereas NAIDOC week focusses on celebrating Australia's historic culture. This year, to recognise NRW we have developed a collective PME package which includes five short bulletins written by Peter Ross, the Forces Command Indigenous Liaison Officer, that explore Australian cultural history and Australian Indigenous military history. These bulletins explore the themes of reconciliation. You can complete the package as an individual or discuss your thoughts in a group setting in order to learn from each other's ideas. This is an important topic we all need to explore and the PME package deliberately poses some challenging questions to help guide discussion.

The theme for NRW 2020 is “In this together”. This could not be more appropriate in today’s climate of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing. In a crisis, Australians have always stood strong together, whether it be bushfires, cyclones, floods or war. However, as a culture we were segregated for centuries. To move forward, we must first recognise the past, acknowledge that we cannot change it, and endeavour to play our part in creating a better future for all Australians.

- What are the steps to reconciliation and why is it important?

- A quick revision on the impacts of colonisation.

-  Indigenous military service and their life after returning home from war. 

- The stolen generation and the assimilation policy

- What the Australian Army is contributing towards 'closing the gap'. 

 

Guided discussion:

  1. What do the five dimensions of reconciliation actually mean and how can we translate them into tangible actions?
  2. What can we do as soldiers and members of our local communities to participate in the reconciliation of our country?
  3. How can we better improve western society’s understanding of the importance of the indigenous connection to the land?
  4. How do we balance society’s development requirements with traditional ownership of the land and our indigenous heritage?
  5. Do you think the cultural prejudice that existed in Australia around WW1 and WW2 is still around today?
  6. Is the basis for today’s prejudices the same as what they were back then?
  7. What can you do to address the cultural acceptance of Indigenous Australians in today’s society?
  8. Even though Australia has anti-discrimination laws, do you think that indigenous peoples are negatively discriminated against today? If so, how and why? 
  9. Is there any way to relate to people who had children taken from them or to those adults that were taken as children?
  10. How do we, as representatives of the Government, rebuild trust with these people?
  11. What is your opinion on Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generation? Why do you think it was important for the apology to be provided to the people affected by the laws and policies of the past?  
  12. How can we example and promote Army as a place of equal opportunity to our Indigenous brothers and sisters?
  13. What can we do in our local community to help Indigenous families without damaging their self-respect and self-esteem?

Summary:

Anthropologist Clifford Geertz once said culture is “the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.” National Reconciliation Week challenges us all to consider the lens with which we view our history and what we can do to create a better future for all Australians.  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that these document may contain images or content referring to deceased persons. It may also contain words or descriptions that may be deemed culturally sensitive. The term “Indigenous” is used throughout this document to refer to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Portrait

Biography

Peter Ross

Major Peter Ross is the Forces Command Indigenous Liaison Officer.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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