Page 1460 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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in the ACT—not just on Reconciliation Day but throughout the year. I would encourage all members to promote this process among their networks, and I hope all members here today, all Canberrans and all Australians, can consider how the theme of this year’s Reconciliation Week can be reflected in their work, family and community lives. As we look set to embark on a new stage of the reconciliation journey as a nation, now is a time for all of us, particularly those of us in positions of power, to consider how we can “be brave, make change”. I present the following paper:

Reconciliation Week—Ministerial statement, 1 June 2022.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.19): I welcome Minister Stephen-Smith making this statement today and providing an opportunity for us to comment during Reconciliation Week, because it is an important time to acknowledge Reconciliation Week and an important moment for each member of our community to stop and think, or learn more about, why we need reconciliation and what that really means.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations people of this country were the first sovereign nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possess it under their own laws and customs. We must acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, and that British colonisation of Australia has caused much pain and anguish to First Nations people of this land, including dispossession of their lands and culture, death and destruction through the frontier wars, and intergenerational trauma through forced child removal and decimation of language.

Today we have still, ashamedly, disproportionately high numbers of incarceration of First Nations men and women, and we are continuing to remove First Nations children at high rates. This is the unfinished business on which we have much work left to do. As Minister Stephen-Smith touched on, the ACT has created Reconciliation Day here in the territory, and while some may say that having a public holiday for reconciliation is tokenism, for many it does open up the doors to have conversations and foster a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Things like trying bush tucker, learning a few words in Ngunnawal language or watching traditional dance, all increase our understanding and respect.

This year’s theme for Reconciliation Week is “Be Brave, Make Change”, and we all know that change begins with our own first steps. We need to have the conversations; we need to open our eyes, our ears and our hearts; we need to ask questions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences; and we need to be open to learning more about what can be done to ensure that we do no more harm and that we move towards true reconciliation for this country.

I am pleased that the new Labor government is committed to the Uluru statement and that Mr Albanese made a point of reinforcing that promise in his very first speech as

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