My name is Roslyn McGregor. My mob are the McGregor, Binge, Peters and Murray families. I'm on the land of the Kamilaroi people. I was born in Collarenebri and I still live there and I work in Walgett, two great communities, which are part of the Kamilaroi nation. My role at the NSW Department of Education is senior leader, community engagement officer currently based at Walgett Community College High School, which is a Connected Community school.
National Reconciliation Week means to me, first and foremost, it's about acknowledging the true history of Australia, coming to terms with the past, to the present. Without this acknowledgement, there is no way forward. And acknowledgement means there is no blame, but acknowledgement has to have truth-telling as its foundation. Reconciliation is only possible when the majority of Australians really accept and understand our shared histories and truly understand the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people.
The Walk for Reconciliation across the Harbor Bridge was 20 years ago, and this was an incredible moment of realisation for those who chose to walk. It was an act of meaningful reconciliation, where the history of past dispossession and current disadvantage would acknowledge. But what has happened since that realisation, and how many people are still walking with us? Initiatives like Closing the Gap and Bringing them Home are just a few of the mainstream campaigns that everybody knows about.
Reconciliation here on the ground starts with local AECGs fighting for better educational outcomes for our kids. Staff connecting with community, going out on Country with Elders, learning language, cultural awareness programs that empower Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to address the tyranny of history. This year 2020, also marks 250 years since Cook charted the east coast of Australia and on the ground, educators are being encouraged to learn the original place names and landmarks that Cook renamed on behalf of the British Crown.
Reconciliation Week starts with National Sorry Day on the 26 May and then Mabo Day on 3 June. It's a week that starts and ends with days of national reflection and history-making court decisions about forced removal of children from their families and land rights. Reconciliation is about recognising those non-Aboriginal people that worked with us, that walked with us in a genuine partnership.
But most of all, reconciliation is a chance for all of us together to unite rather than divide and to heal rather than wound. Reconciliation is not marked by one moment in time. It is ongoing now and into the future. Here in Walgett as senior leader, community engagement officer, we are marking this year by bringing home the message of caring for country, and teaching our kids that it is important, right here right now, and in our own community.
It builds upon generations of Aboriginal people caring for country wherever their nation may be. We will be asking students and communities what caring for Country means to them. And we'll put a series of posters all around town, with words, quotes and images that tells the story of caring for Kamilaroi country.
Being isolated and locked up inside because of the coronavirus, community has had to come together. It gives us the perfect opportunity to really think about where we are and how we live on Country. 2020 is the time to celebrate our identity that comes from the sense of place and belonging we get when we are all caring for country. In this together, and reconciliation needs you.
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