National Reconciliation Week 2021: More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.

By Julia Waters, Records Manager, Queensland Museum

Each year National Reconciliation Week reminds many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families of the changes that occurred after the 1967 Referendum on 27 May. My family lived at Inala and we were like so many other families in Housing Commission communities across Queensland. My parents were labourers. My father, Len Waters, who was a recognised World War Two Fighter Pilot, earned his living as a shearer and my mother took in ironing, cleaning houses and an assortment of offices.

Normally dad was only home over the Christmas or Easter Breaks, or long weekends during the year as he travelled from Cloncurry in Northern Queensland (winter months) to Naracoorte in South Australia (summer months). During May 1967, Dad was home and as head of the family, he completed the Referendum. I remember dad saying that between him and mum their ancestries were like Heinz 57 Variety Soup – he had trouble writing down all the nationalities in the space provided. One of the nationalities stood out as he muttered about a Great Aunt from Cameroon. What a pity Right to Information doesn’t permit us for seeking the completed 1967 referendum forms.

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme reminds everyone that reconciliation is greater than a single word. It reminds us to be responsible for our actions. Over the last four years, I have been associated developing and implementing Queensland Museum Network’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. During the tenure, I have seen the museum implementing changes to its programs and core business activities to honour the “Apology” that was captured in their Reflect RAP document. The word “Reconciliation” now is an easy word within the museum’s programs and solidifies Queensland Museum Network with its communities across Queensland.

Left to right: David Williams, Minister Leeanne Enoch, Shannon Ruska, Julia Waters, Dr Jim Thompson.

Queensland Museum Network’s Reconciliation Pledge

This year marks 20 years of Reconciliation Australia. Together let’s pledge to make more impactful actions. We’ve created a Microsoft Teams discussion thread for all Queensland Museum Network staff to pledge their personal actions to continue our reconciliation journey.

Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation. At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 

Find out more about National Reconciliation Week. 

#MoreThanAWord #NRW2021