Reconciliation Week: Our country, Our future – Our shared responsibility

Embracing Aboriginal wisdom, culture and history, so we can call all work towards a shared future as custodians of this place we call home – Australia.
Reconciliation Week: Our country, Our future – Our shared responsibility The Firestick Project will share how cultural burning knowledge has evolved over thousands of years. Photo credit: Garry Detez.

Michelle White

Friday 14 May, 2021

The theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week is more than a word – Reconciliation takes action. Yarra Ranges Council in Victoria has certainly met the challenge, assembling an incredible line-up of inspirational and respected First Nation speakers and thought leaders.

Anti-racism activist Adam Goodes, acclaimed playwright Uncle Richard Frankland, academic and author Aunty Judy Atkinson, Cultural burning expert Victor Steffensen and much-loved performer Archie Roach will star in a special live streamed Reconciliation Week event on May 27 between 10am and 1.30pm AEST.

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Indigenous Development Coordinator for the Shire, Garry Detez says the aim of the event is to bring people together to share knowledge as a platform for Reconciliation. For instance, learning about Indigenous Firestick Knowledge.

‘Cultural burning is something Aboriginal people have perfected over thousands of years. Its importance was highlighted during last year’s devastating bushfires where it was shown that communities where cultural burning took place, were less impacted by the firestorms. Cultural burning is working with nature, not against it to build our resilience in the face of climate change and COVID-19’.

Mr Detez added, ‘This ancient wisdom regarding man’s inherent role in maintaining the health and balance of the natural world is providing a radical, elegant and effective pathway for our natural environment to heal and improve community health and safety.’

Find out more about cultural burning here.


Anti-racism activist Adam Goodes. Image supplied.

This will not be the first time Yarra Ranges has held its key Reconciliation Week event online. Like many organisations around the world, last year they had to do a ‘Covid-pivot’ – taking an event they would normally host in a local art centre into the online realm.

It proved to be hugely successful, increasing audience participation from around 300 to 3000.

Mr Detez hopes this year’s line-up will attract even more participants from all over the country.

‘When we approached Adam Goodes, we didn’t want to talk to him about the obvious racism thing, or the onfield booing he copped, we were really interested in hearing about his personal cultural journey – what it means to him to be an Aboriginal man of culture – that’s what we really want to hear about.’

Traditional culture, knowledge and sharing is at the heart of this event and promises to give insights into how everyone can embrace the ancient wisdom of this land.

‘Aboriginal culture and history is the culture and history of all Australians. It defines our personal and national identity,’ Mr Detez said.

Uncle Archie Roach will be taking part in Yarra Ranges Council's Reconciliation Week event. Photo credit: Adrian Cook. 

During the online event Uncle Richard Frankland will talk about the role of Aboriginal culture in every day Australian life and what the world looks like through an Aboriginal lens. Uncle Richard will offer insights into how every Australian can embrace Aboriginal culture and move forward as one people.

Aunty Judy Atkinson will share thoughts on how we can improve our society though deep listening, Indigenous knowledge, the ancient practice of Dadirri, the gift from Aboriginal people to all Australians.

The event will culminate with a live performance by one of our Nation’s much-loved performers, Archie Roach.

As well as high profile Aboriginal leaders, the event features local Aboriginal community members providing Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies with young Aboriginal people sharing Master of Ceremony duties .

‘Aboriginal culture and its 60,000 plus year history cannot be separated out from the story of all Australians; it is part of who we all are, particularly those that seek to be part of the story of this land.’ – Garry Detez.

Book now to be a part of the national livestreamed event Our Country, Our Future Our Shared Responsibility.

About the author

Michelle White is an award winning former ABC journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in television, film, radio, print and digital media.

A proud Yamatij storyteller, she is passionate about sharing the stories of First Nation people and they have formed the basis of many of her creative projects, including short stories, publications and plays.

Michelle works part time as Partnerships and Platforming Manager for Community Arts Network in WA and is a freelance writer for several online publications.

When not working for CAN, Michelle volunteers her time on the board of Seesaw Magazine and Noongar charity, As One Nyitting. She also sits on several local government advisory committees and is a an arts grant Peer Assessor and Chair..

In 2019 Michelle was featured in the SBS series Every Family Has a Secret which explored her Mother’s stolen generation experiences of removal as a child. She also discovered her Grandfather was sent from England to Australia as a child migrant.