National Reconciliation Week this year runs from 27 May to 3 June. The theme of the week is 'Now More Than Ever' and it is 'a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia'.

The Reconciliation Week website goes on:

The National Reconciliation Week theme for 2024, Now More Than Ever, is a reminder to all of us that no matter what, the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will —and must —continue.
There have been many moments in Australia’s reconciliation journey that make us want to turn away. But when things are divisive, the worst thing we can do is disengage or disconnect.
Now more than ever, we need to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation. We know that the 6.2 million Australians who voted YES are committed to better outcomes for First Nations people, and are with us.
Reconciliation supporters must stand up to defend and uphold the rights of First Nations peoples. To call out racism wherever we encounter it, and to actively reinforce the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across this continent.
Now more than ever, the work continues. In treaty making, in truth-telling, in understanding our history, in education, and in tackling racism. We need connection. We need respect. We need action. And we need change.  
Now more than ever, we need reconciliation.

Defending Country agrees. We commend Reconciliation Week, its website and the activities promoted there. Truth-telling and understanding our history are exactly what the Defending Country campaign is about: the proper recognition and commemoration of First Nations deaths in the Australian Frontier Wars is part of Truth-telling and will flow from understanding our history.

Last week also, the Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police, Shane Patton APM, made a formal apology for the role of his force in removing Aboriginal children - the Stolen Generations. The Commissioner's speech.

'I cannot begin to imagine', the Chief Commissioner said, 'the profound distress that the forceable separation of children from their families would have caused and that continues to be felt ... I want to conclude today's apology by saying to every Stolen Generations survivor, their families, and the entire Aboriginal community, for the harm caused through Victoria Police's actions, I am truly sorry.'

Responding to the Chief Commissioner, Aunty Muriel Bamblett, the chief executive of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, said, 'I’m looking forward to telling my children and my grandchildren one day that we had an apology that has actually changed the lives of our people'.

More from the Victorian Yoorook Justice Commission hearings.

Defending Country's website includes these relevant words:

The events of the Stolen Generations contributed to the intergenerational trauma of First Nations Australians. Australia’s Frontier Wars also contributed to that trauma, but there has been no national Apology for them, though they caused the deaths of between 20 000 and 100 000 Indigenous Australians, men, women and children ... Properly recognising and commemorating the Frontier Wars at the Australian War Memorial and other commemorative sites around Australia would be a practical – if incomplete – Apology.

Prime Minister Keating's Redfern speech of 1992 was kind of an apology for murders and dispossession. Since then, we have had apologies from (at least) two Prime Ministers (Rudd and Gillard) and now a police Commissioner, for Stolen Generations and Forced Adoptions. Surely, it is time, echoing Aunty Muriel, for an apology that changes people's lives - that is followed by sustained action to properly address the many forms of intergenerational trauma that affect Indigenous Australians.

That applies just as much at the Australian War Memorial and our other war memorials as it does in the Victoria Police. Properly recognising and commemorating First Australians' deaths in the Australian Frontier Wars shows we care about those deaths.

May 26, 2024

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