"It's a long road we have come and it's a long road we can go. We have to walk together and talk together. If you never listen to me, I will never listen to you. I will not follow you. Walk side by side and let's get there."
Conrad Ratara, Arrernte elder, at a ceremony for the return of ancestral lands
When European colonialism began in the late 1700s, thousands of indigenous Australians were forced from their land. They died from disease or were killed by the colonists. By the 1850s, what was left of the indigenous Australian population was confined to reserves (similar to the experience of Native Americans in the United States). Between 1910 to 1970, government officials removed many indigenous children from their families, placing them into state care for “assimilation” into white culture. These children were known as the
In the 20th century, a civil rights movement in Australia led to a referendum in 1967. More than 90 percent of Australians voted to remove clauses from the constitution that discriminated against indigenous Australians. In 1993, the Native Title Act allowed indigenous Australians to claim land when they can establish unbroken occupancy of an area. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a national apology to the stolen generations.
ACT’s new Reconciliation Day public holiday is another step in a long road and part of a National Reconciliation Week in Australia, which runs from 27 May to 3 June.