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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 10 May 2018) . . Page.. 1768 ..


Requiring a daily acknowledgement of country rather than this occurring just once at the beginning of each sitting period is a meaningful gesture towards reconciliation that this place can make in the lead-up to Reconciliation Day. It will also align the Legislative Assembly with the House of Representatives, where the standing orders require the Speaker to make an acknowledgement of country at the beginning of each sitting day.

Last year all parties in this place came together to support the establishment of Australia’s first public holiday celebrating the culture, contribution and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Reconciliation Day falls during Reconciliation Week, which is celebrated around Australia from 27 May to 3 June to commemorate two significant reconciliation milestones: the 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision. This year’s theme, which has also been adopted for the ACT’s Reconciliation Day, is “Don’t keep history a mystery”. Australians are encouraged to explore the past, learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture and, in doing so, develop a deeper understanding of our national story.

On Reconciliation Day a flagship community event will be held in Glebe Park from 10 am to 2 pm featuring performances, food stalls, bush tucker talks, children’s art workshops and more. The event will feature entertainment from a range of local artists, storytellers and musicians. This will, of course, follow a Reconciliation Day eve concert at the Canberra Theatre featuring the legendary Archie Roach and Tiddas, as well as Briggs and the Bad Apple Crew: truly something for everyone, music wise.

I was also pleased recently to announce that 19 local community organisations and schools are receiving grants for programs and events to demonstrate the importance of reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in a myriad of ways.

I understand this motion has the support of all parties in this place, and I think this is important. This is not about party politics or who is right or wrong; this is about all of us coming together in unity to demonstrate the Assembly’s ongoing commitment to the journey of reconciliation. Acknowledging the true history of our beautiful city and region each day may be a small act, but it is symbolic of our commitment, and I thank members for supporting this motion in the lead-up to Reconciliation Day.

MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (11.27): I thank Minister Stephen-Smith for bringing forward this motion. Conducting an acknowledgement of country at the opening of each Legislative Assembly sitting day will bring the ACT into line with practices in most other states and territories, as well as federal parliament. Importantly, as you all know, an acknowledgement of country is an opportunity to show respect for traditional owners. It also recognises the connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to country, which has both substantive and symbolic importance.

But for far too long the Indigenous community of Canberra has watched this government fail across a range of public policy areas. So whilst we support the introduction of daily acknowledgement of country, and I sincerely hope that this helps


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