This year, we mark the anniversaries of two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: 50 years since the 1967 referendum, and 25 years since the Mabo decision. All Melburnians are invited to take place in events throughout the city this month; here are some of our highlights.
For more insight into the history and culture of the peoples of the Kulin Nation, go on one of these Indigenous walks and tours in Melbourne and across Victoria, and learn some Boon Wurrung words from elder and language specialist Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir.
Events and things to do
Solidarity and celebration. Join Gail Mabo, daughter of Eddie Mabo, and our local Aboriginal Elders for the inaugural We | Here | Now program at Fed Square. Following the raising of Fed Square’s first permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, the main stage will be filled with performances by acclaimed artists including Casey Donovan, plus a variety of cultural workshops, and a marngrook (Aboriginal football) demonstration. Afterwards, everyone is invited to join AFL legend Michael Long on his mission of hope and commitment to reconciliation and a united Australia, by walking to the MCG.
On this day that acknowledges institutional abuse of Australia’s First Nations’ People, Bunjilaka’s screening of Lousy Little Sixpence will include a talk by writer, director, producer Dr Alec Morgan. The 1983 documentary reveals the story of five children who represent an entire generation stolen from their families and in turn used as unpaid servants. The title Lousy Little Sixpence refers to the pocket money that they were supposed to be given but never received. Prepare to be shocked and outraged, and in the theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week, Let's Take the Next Step.
Visual artists Gabi Briggs and Arika Waulu are Real Blak Tingz; a collective that aims to decolonise white patriarchal society and reinstate a Sovereign Blak Matriarchy by taking over gallery spaces. In this free exhibition, Briggs and Waulu will fill Koorie Heritage Trust with sculpture, portraiture and projection – all of which imagines a decolonial future.
On May 27 1967, 90 per cent of Australians voted in favour of altering the constitution so that Indigenous people would be included in the national census. The years and months leading up to this turning point in Australian history were marked by protests and petitions by First Nations people from across the country; and it is this movement for change that Bunjilaka seeks to capture in One Day, Many Voices. Footage and images from this period will be presented on screens inside voting booths, along with historic ephemera. Koorie artists have also been invited to create and display work in response to the referendum – look out for photo-collages by Gunditjmara artist Hayley Millar-Baker and the striking digital print ‘Protest Baby’ by Gunnai/Gunditjmara artist Arika Waulu.
Get to know deadly Melburnians making a mark
What does it mean to grow up separated from the knowledge and culture of your ancestors – and how do you reconnect with your past? Aunty Carolyn Briggs – a highly respected Boon Wurrung Elder – shares her journey of self-discovery with us, and outlines her vision for a better future.
Boon Wurrung elder and language specialist Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir shares words that were once spoken in the coastal region of Victoria stretching from Werribee River to Wilson's Promontory.