Reconciliation over Lunch

The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia), May 14, 2013 | Go to article overview

Reconciliation over Lunch


YOU are invited to lunch. So if I get lost between the first sentence and the end of these scribbles hold onto that thought.

Itas interesting how we sometimes hold onto myths a even when they have no basis in fact and indeed cast us in a bad light.

Over the years I have been present at a number of presentations by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal speakers alike when the claim has been made that Toowoomba received one of the highest NO votes in the 1967 referendum. I sometimes have quietly sidled up to the speaker afterwards and let them know that the NO vote was quite low in our Federal seat in May of 1967.

There are lots of myths around the 1967 referendum. Some say thatas when Aboriginal people got the vote, others thatas when they became citizens in their own country. It will take me too long to unravel some a so letas stick with the first.

More than 90% of voters in Toowoomba said YES to the aAboriginal questiona on May 27, 1967. That puts us at number 8 among 18 federal electorates in terms of the YES vote.

In the weeks leading up to the vote there were even a few letters to the editor in The Chronicle arguing for change. There have been a number of positive changes in the community in the reconciliation with our first peoples.

Teaching students at our local university now study indigenous history and culture as a matter of course. Corporations, sporting clubs, faith groups and non-government organisations have created Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPS) as a tool to turn good intentions into practical outcomes.

Last year our mayor spoke at a reconciliation event that had support from Lifeline Darling Downs, the Smith Family, the Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba, YWCA, Westpac Bank, Harvey Norman, Joyce Mayne and USQ.

It was more than the ausual suspectsa and demonstrates that we are maturing as a nation and a local community. But there is still much to be done. Our Constitution was written over a century ago a Aboriginal people have been here for more than 40,000 years a but they still donat rate a mention in our nationas birth document.

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