On Tuesday 30 May, Youth Off The Streets held a reconciliation week event in order to mark two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: The 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision.
The event was held at the Koch Centre For Youth and Learning in Macquarie Fields. It was a large turnout consisting of a mix between local community members and Youth Off The Streets services.
The event started with a smoking ceremony to build positivity, harmony and bring everyone together. The welcome to country was done by Uncle Alan who spoke about unity and the need for people to come together. It was a speech along the theme of the week; “let’s take the next steps”.
Long-time supporter Dean Kelly (who has helped us deliver programs and taken our young people on tours around the national park) spoke about the need for unity and explained the meaning of the Aboriginal garden. He said that we are travelling on the same path and that unity is the key to moving forward as people.
The crowd was treated to some Aboriginal dancers, some of the best in the country (if we don’t say so ourselves). The crowd rounded out their performance with an ovation that will rival every try scored during the State Of Origin series.
To finish the opening ceremony, three young people from Eden College got up in front of the crowd and delivered a short speech on what reconciliation meant to them. It was amazing to see the young people in front of the crowd, each one battling stage fright and shyness. Their speeches are copied below and their names have been changed for privacy.
I stand here loud and proud on behalf of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. My name is Charlotte. Today I ask you all to pay your respects to all elders past and present as we remember the many challenges they have overcome to make my future brighter. This is an invitation to learn about my culture as we celebrate reconciliation.
I stand here today as well proud to be Australian. My name is Helen and reconciliation is about bringing our two cultures together. It’s a time for us to learn about the history of the past so that we can build a positive future for our children. Change starts with each and every one of you here. This is what reconciliation means to me.
My name is Jenna and I represent the future of all young people. It is important that we remember the Stolen Generation and other occasions like National Sorry Day and NAIDOC because they help us to understand the Aboriginal culture more. Today is about sharing and learning and bringing all nationalities together. Have a great day.