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National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) takes place annually from May 27 – June 3 to commemorate two significant milestones: the 1967 Referendum granting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the right to vote and, the 1992 Mabo decision debunking the fallacy of the doctrine of ‘Terra Nullius’.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) Breakfast 2024

Through our annual National Reconciliation Week (NRW) Breakfast, we aim to bring diverse and passionate voices to Tasmanian audiences, to broaden the reach of reconciliation and inform more people about Aboriginal history, culture, and contemporary issues.

Our speakers Shane Howard and Ged Watts were key to this. Shane with his decades of experience as a reconciliation activist and legendary Australian musician, and Ged as a young palawa man speaking his truth from the heart.

SHANE HOWARD – former Goanna band frontman, award-winning musician, and long-time reconciliation activist and;

GED WATTS – a young palawa man who grew up immersed in cultural activities on-country, and whose powerful speech on reconciliation in the lead up to the Voice referendum drew a standing ovation. This year was no exception.

Shane has been a vocal ally of First Nations people’s right to justice and self-determination for more than 40 years. As a member of Goanna, he penned the anthemic song ‘Solid Rock’ which became a foundation song for the path toward truth telling.

This is the first year an RT NRW breakfast will feature a non-Aboriginal keynote speaker who will speak to the importance of walking together for reconciliation and standing up as a strong ally. Shane embodies what it means to be a committed ally, recently handing back his OAM (Order of Australia) medal due to the failure of the Voice referendum.

2024’s NRW theme of Now More Than Ever speaks to the work that is needed. 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.

Thanks to our sponsors:

Hydro Tasmania, Forico, University of Tasmania, Key Assets, Snap Hobart, TasWater, Wellways and Libraries Tasmania. Special thanks to MyState Bank Arena for working closely with us to pull off a sold-out event with numbers higher than ever before, nearly 900 tickets.

This year, in line with our capacity, we hosted one breakfast only in nipaluna/Hobart.

NRW 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 momentum for greater reconciliation action is building across Australia and, especially, here in Trouwunna/lutruwita (Tasmania).

Reconciliation Tasmania’s NRW Breakfasts across the state are our biggest yearly event. Previous keynote speakers have included in 2023 acclaimed journalist, entertainment personality and Kamilaroi descendant Ray Martin.

In 2022, author, activist, signatory and advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Kaurareg Aboriginal and Kalkalgal, Erubamle Torres Strait Islander man, Thomas Mayo.

Powerful speaker Professor Marcia Langton AO, anthropologist, geographer, activist and academic, spoke in 2021. Professor Langton is a descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations of Queensland. She is Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, where she is Associate Provost.

Yawuru leader Professor Peter Yu AM and former Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission Mick Gooda.

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 to 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 voted YES and are committed to better outcomes for First Nations people.

Reconciliation supporters must stand up to defend and uphold the rights of First Nations peoples, call out racism wherever we encounter it, and 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.

In 2023 we kept up the momentum after the success of our 2022 statewide breakfasts. The theme was Be A Voice for Generations. The theme encouraged all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise. For the work of generations past, and the benefit of future generations, act today for a more just, equitable and reconciled country for all.

During our 2023 NRW breakfasts we were excited to have acclaimed journalist, entertainment personality and Kamilaroi descendant Ray Martin on board. Ray has been involved in the reconciliation movement for over 40 years and brought his own unique perspective to the referendum debate.

Ray Martin with nipaluna/Hobart co-speaker Tyenna Hogan.

Ray was partnered with three local co-speakers from each area. Our co-speaker for nipaluna/Hobart was palawa and bundjalung UTAS Law and Sociology student Tyenna Hogan who spoke clearly and strongly about how some of the southern Aboriginal community felt about the referendum. She is currently doing a semester in Paris studying International Law.

In Launceston we had 19-year-old palawa man Ged Watts who was brought up in Georgetown. He grew up immersed in cultural activities on-country and is currently studying Cyber Security at the University of Victoria. More on his speech further down.

In Devonport our co-speaker Dave mangenner Gough, a proud Trawlwoolway man who descends from bunganna (chief), Manalargenna’s oldest daughter, Woretemoeteyenner of Northeast Tasmania. mangenner is an artist and curator. He is a storyteller, playwright, producer, director, narrator and performer with large-scale performances, exhibitions and installations.

Many who attended our National Reconciliation Week Launceston Breakfast were left speechless after young First Nations man Ged delivered his speech. He spoke about his family, experiencing racism and the referendum. It was an inspiring and heartfelt talk. He was our only speaker who received a standing ovation from the three breakfasts.

We were inundated with requests to get copies of it and thankfully the independent videographer we work with James Klumpes has recorded the speech in full! Check it out below.

Ged Watt’s Speech HERE

For the full video of the Devonport National Reconciliation Week Breakfast, click HERE

Lunchtime Forums

Our Lunchtime Forum series ran across the State during National Reconciliation Week (NRW) featuring three local Tasmanian First Nations people in Hobart: Ruth Langford, Alison Overeem and Duncan Robinson. In Ulverstone: Hank Horton, Uncle Sammy Howard and Aunty Netty Shaw. In Launceston: Aunty Sharon Holbrook, Nathan Charles Brown and Nick Cameron. Attendees were enriched by the truth-telling told by our Aboriginal community speakers who discussed current and ongoing issues and topics including the 2023 Referendum for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.

National Reconciliation Week 2022

In 2022 the NRW theme was Be Brave. Make Change. RT followed this theme closely in bringing two special guests to our breakfasts, who are both brave change makers.

Signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, tireless campaigner for Enshrinement of the Voice and author of Finding Our Heart and other books, Thomas Mayo is growing voice for First Nations Australians. Hailing from the Torres Strait and Larrakia country, Thomas speaks with passion on Voice, Treaty and Truth, and how greater recognition of First Nations Australians will be a catalyst for the growth of our nation.

Joining Thomas was the 2022 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year, Kaytlyn Johnson. As a palawa woman growing up in remote NW Tasmania, Kaytlyn experienced many “cultural struggles” as she sought to connect with her Aboriginal heritage and identity. Now an emerging singer-songwriter and university science student, Kaytlyn is also a passionate advocate for First Nations youth recognition and rights and cultural education in schools.

With our passionate special guests and a program led and delivered by First Nations Tasmanians, RT’s 2022 NRW Breakfast Program was a huge success with over 1,500 people attending our three breakfasts across the state.