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

24 May, 2021

As National Reconciliation Week approaches, our union continues to take meaningful steps towards reconciliation, through campaigning activities and the ongoing work of our Yubbah Action Group.

Held annually, National Reconciliation Week occurs between 27 May and 3 June, dates which mark historically significant milestones for First Nations People and Australia’s reconciliation journey: the 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision.

The theme for National Reconciliation Week this year is More than a word. Reconciliation takes action, a powerful reminder that words are simply not enough; only courageous, impactful actions will lead to progress on reconciliation with First Nations Peoples in Australia.

2021 marks 30 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report in 1991.

Since then, 475 First Nations Peoples have died in police and prison custody, according to The Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside database.

First Nations Peoples comprise just 3% of the general population yet make up one third of the country’s prison population.

The appalling levels of over-incarceration of First Nations Peoples in Australia’s prison system is evidence of ongoing systemic racism, inequity and injustice resulting from colonialism.

Given these shameful statistics, our union encourages IEU Chapters to take action during National Reconciliation Week 2021 by committing to amplifying First Nations’ voices and support  Reconciliation Australia’s Deaths in Custody: Action on Justice Needed campaign.

As part of the campaign, members are encouraged to:

  • Email your state MP asking them to reform laws which disproportionately push First Nations Peoples into prisons and to help change the record on First Nations deaths in custody (changetherecord.org.au).
  • Join the ‘Raise the Age’ campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 (raisetheage.org.au).
  • Support Amnesty International’s ‘Community is Everything’ First Nations youth inequality campaign (amnesty.org.au/campaigns/indigenous-justice).

For more information on the campaign, visit www.reconciliation.org.au/deaths-in-custody-action-on-justice-needed

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