We are all In This Together – National Reconciliation Week 2020

National Reconciliation week is a time to pause, celebrate progress and reflect on what more needs to be done in our journey towards a united, fair, culturally respectful and equitable Australia.

At Umwelt, we continue our path as a business that shares these values. We are committed to being on this journey towards reconciliation with the Traditional Owners of the land and waters on which our people work and live.

The date for National Reconciliation Week is very significant and is linked to two important events in Australia’s history.

  • The symbolic 1967 referendum which finally afforded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians the right to be included in the national census and for the Commonwealth Government (rather than the states) to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. It is perhaps difficult to imagine now, that before 1962, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not able to vote in our democracy and were not recognised as being the original Australians and included in the population of Australia. The referendum raised a lot of hope that decisions would be made in the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. That journey is continuing through other changes to our legal system and ongoing questioning of laws to ensure equality.
  • The High Court Mabo decision in 1992 which recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to land. The Mabo case was a step towards this recognition. Complex proceedings in the native title case commenced in 1982; with six of the seven judges of the High Court ruling that the lands of Australia were not land ‘belonging to no-one’ when European settlement occurred. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had lived in Australia for thousands of years and had rights to their land according to their own laws and customs. The Native Title Act, passed in 1993, provided further legal protection to the rights and customs confirmed in the High Court Mabo case and access to compensation.

Nearly 20 years later, we all still have much to learn, but at Umwelt we acknowledge that “We are all In This Together”.