What does reconciliation mean?

Notes from the Parliament of Youth on Sustainability – Thursday 24 June 2021

The Parliament of Youth on Sustainability brings together students from around Canberra, from kindergarten to year 12, in an annual mock-Parliament event. Students develop proposals over terms 1 and 2 on how to make the Canberra region more sustainable. On Parliament Presentation Day, the students come together to present and debate their proposals, as though they were Parliamentarians.

The theme for proposals in 2021 was “What’s one action we can take to thrive on Ngunnawal Country?”. Students were encouraged to respect, acknowledge and deeply consider Aboriginal connection to country as they addressed this question. As part of the Parliament Presentation Day, ANTaR ACT was one of the organisations hosting stalls for students to visit in their breaks, to help raise awareness Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia in a fun, interactive and engaging way. ANTaR ACT volunteers invited students to write down what reconciliation meant to them on post it notes to be places on hands. With rain, the stalls were relocated inside so the sea of hands became a collage of hands on our banner, as shown here with volunteers Cherisse and Phil.

The students’ reflections were varied and insightful. Some were about reconciliation generally; others were very specific about the experience of First Nations people in Australia and those who have come to this land from elsewhere. Below is a selection of comments, showing the range of ideas in the students’ comments.

Apologising for your mistakes, asking for forgivenessInteracting at peace with the traditional owners of Australia
Reconciliation means to appreciate everyone and remember everyone is equalReconciliation means taking action to ensure Indigenous culture is front and center and continues to thrive in future
Everyone being different and acknowledging uniquenessAcknowledging that this is their land and that we meet on places of their country
Respect and kindness
A brighter future for all 
We care about Indigenous people, and we will be equal and fair to the people who were here before us. We also take care of their land
It means that people of every colour or race can come together and share their storiesSovereignty was never ceded. We need to acknowledge that we are on STOLEN land. Equality and justice are needed for reconciliation.
Education, listening, advocating and standing up for the rights of our traditional owners.It means to apologise to the Aboriginal people and to mend the past and create the future.

Thanks to SEE-Change for organising this event and inviting us to be part of it. A great day!


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