National Reconciliation Week 2018

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated annually across the country from 27 May – 3 June, and invites all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievements and how we can all work towards a unified future for all. This years theme was ‘Dont Keep History A Mystery: Learn. Share. Grow’, urging everyone to look beneath the surface to uncover the rich histories and stories of our people throughout history.

This year, State Library of Queensland celebrated National Reconciliation Week in emphatic fashion with large numbers of staff actively involved in a variety of internal events.

In the lead up to the week, we had State Library of Queensland Board Member and internationally renowned author Dr. Anita Heiss present at our Night by the  Fire forum. We sat down with Dr. Heiss to discuss her novel My Australian Story: Our Race to Reconciliation, and what role sport plays in the journey to reconciliation. Some brilliant discussions were had around the fire pit, with a sell out crowd intently listening to the inspirations behind the novel and pulling apart the meaning of reconciliation for all. A big thank you goes out to Dr. Heiss for her generosity and time once more, and to all of those who attended.

Night by the Fire with Dr. Anita Heiss. Photography by Lewis James Media.

The beginning of the week kicked off on Sunday 27 May with the Queensland Government Reconciliation Action Plan Launch held on the Maiwar  Green. A large number of State Government officials, Reconciliation Australia and Queensland staff, State Library of Queensland staff, performers from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts and key community members attended the mornings event, with a morning tea celebration held in kuril dhagun to wrap up proceedings. Nearly 140 people attended the event, providing a fantastic opportunity to connect with other government agencies and community members. Queensland is the first state to adopt an all-of-government RAP, which helped to set an extremely positive tone for the week ahead.

State Library of Queensland partners, BlackCard provided SLQ staff perfect platform to start the week off by hosting two Cultural Capability Workshops. A total of 40 staff attended the workshops on both Monday and Wednesday of Reconciliation Week, fully booking out both sessions. These sessions offered staff the opportunity to uncover the local histories of our people through artifacts and artworks on a tour around the precinct, and to also strengthen ethical behavior and understanding during the course of a two hour workshop.  The BlackCard have been a long time partner of SLQ, and the value of these experiences was felt by all as highlighted in the wonderfully positive feedback we received.

Yarraka Bayles of BlackCard next to Judy Watson’s installation tow row, outside GOMA.

“It’s hard to put into words but I really feel like this workshop opened my mind and my heart to better understanding Indigenous culture” one staff member said.

(L to R) Caitlin Murphy, Donna Semple, Yarraka Bayles and Grace Lucas-Pennington attending the BlackCard Workshop and Tour.

We also had local and Aboriginal owned bush foods caterer First Food Co conduct a Tasting Table Information session for SLQ staff and visitors during the week. Owner Aunty Dale Chapman hosted the session and gave those who attended an insight into the many practical uses of a variety of native Australia ingredients, as well as offering a number of tastings of some native foods and ingredients. Lemon Myrtle was a key feature during the presentation and provided plenty of inspiration for those who attended to get involved in the final event of the week. The history behind the use of native resources and food preparation practices by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is rich and extensive, and those who attended the session surely walked away with a greater appreciation for the way our Indigenous people cultivate and make use of our natural resources.

First Food Co Tasting Table session with Aunty Dale Chapman and SLQ staff.

Our Strategic Engagement team also hosted a morning tea for staff led by Danny Peel, where we got to hear some perspectives of our non-indigenous staff on the topic of reconciliation. We were also treated to a short screening of Aunty Maggie and the Womba Wakgun with an introduction by the film’s writer and our very own kuril dhagun staff member Angelina Hurley. Copies of the new whole-of-Government RAP were on hand for staff to take home as well. We would like to thank Danny and his team, including all of the staff who attended this session for their super contributions during the week, and the assistance of Black Screen, an initiative of the National Film & Sound Archive for the ability to screen the film.

SLQ Staff morning tea hosted by State Library of Queensland’s Strategic Engagement team.

We rounded the week off with an inspired Bake-Off competition, with a 14 teams of staff eagerly entering to impress us with their baking skills. Throughout the week, the kuril dhagun team offered pouches of Lemon Myrtle to staff to get creative and think about what different uses they could come up with in their baking. We had a resounding response to the  bake-off, and it was the perfect way to round off the week’s celebrations with many different and wonderful creations. We had a handful of judges adjudicating the morning, including our very own Willie Prince, Indigenous Advisory Group member Helena Wright and kuril dhagun Lead Christina Canendo. There was first, second and third prizes handed out for the best judged entrants with the gold medal going to our Executive Director of Public Libraries and Engagement Louise Denoon, for her incredibly flavorsome Lemon Myrtle baked Macadamia nuts. Well deserved Louise!

SLQ staff at the National Reconciliation Week Bake-Off competition.

A selection of entries by SLQ staff for the National Reconciliation Week Bake-Off competition.

A huge thank you must go out to everyone at SLQ for getting involved with all of the activities and sessions throughout the week. This years National Reconciliation Week was without a doubt one of the most enjoyable weeks thus far in 2018, and it was incredible to see the buy in from so many staff across the organisation. The spirit of reconciliation was definitely felt as we all came together to celebrate the everything that is unique and wonderful about our nations long and diverse history.