These resources have been developed to facilitate the learning and progress of your individual reconciliation journey. Providing a ready reference to keep on hand, these resources will grow over time.
The Melbourne Reconciliation Network was created as a forum for University of Melbourne staff to share information and ideas on practical reconciliation and help make our working environment a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander staff and students. Membership to the Network is currently open to University of Melbourne staff and plans are underway to extend membership to University of Melbourne students in the near future.
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Ten ways to positively engage with Indigenous issues
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National Reconciliation Week 2021
Writer, historian and activist Tony Birch reads a selection of his new work and reflects upon the complexities of Reconciliation.
Content warning: This presentation contains references to trauma, including natural disaster, and sexual and family violence.
Reconciliation, as defined by Reconciliation Australia, is based on five critical, interrelated dimensions: race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance. This list of recommended readings and viewings explore themes vital to developing a deeper appreciation for the complexity of Reconciliation and how they relate to the five dimensions above. Resources will continually be added to the list.
The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation, Sarah Maddison, Tom Clark, Ravi de Costa (Editors), 2016, [LITERATURE]: This book investigates whether and how reconciliation in Australia and other settler colonial societies might connect to the attitudes of non-Indigenous people in ways that promote a deeper engagement with Indigenous needs and aspirations. It explores concepts and practices of reconciliation, considering the structural and attitudinal limits to such efforts in settler colonial countries. Bringing together contributions by the world’s leading experts on settler colonialism and the politics of reconciliation, it complements current research approaches to the problems of responsibility and engagement between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Available as ebook from Unimelb Library.
Decolonizing solidarity : dilemmas and directions for supporters of indigenous struggles, Clare Land (Author), 2015, [LITERATURE]: In this highly original and much-needed book, Clare Land interrogates the often fraught endeavours of activists from colonial backgrounds seeking to be politically supportive of Indigenous struggles. Blending key theoretical and practical questions, Land argues that the predominant impulses which drive middle-class settler activists to support Indigenous people cannot lead to successful alliances and meaningful social change unless they are significantly transformed through a process of both public political action and critical self-reflection. Based on a wealth of in-depth, original research, and focussing in particular on Australia, where - despite strident challenges - the vestiges of British law and cultural power have restrained the nation's emergence out of colonising dynamics, Decolonizing Solidarities provides a vital resource for those involved in Indigenous activism and scholarship. Available as ebook from Unimelb Library.
First Nations Peoples of Australia have had a continuous and unique connection to the country, skies and waterways of this vast land. Explore what Country means to First Peoples and how connection to Country forms an important thread in Indigenous culture, stories and practices.
We Don't Need a Map: An Intimate Look at the Southern Cross Constellation, Director - Warwick Thornton, 2017 [FILM]: The Southern Cross is the most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere. Ever since colonisation it's been claimed, appropriated and hotly-contested for ownership by a radical range of Australian groups. But for Aboriginal people the meaning of this heavenly body is deeply spiritual. Leading Australian film-maker, Warwick Thornton tackles this fiery subject head-on in this bold, poetic essay-film. WE DON'T NEED A MAP asks questions about where the Southern Cross sits in the Australian psyche. Imbued with Warwick's cavalier spirit, this is a fun and thought-provoking ride through Australia's cultural and political landscape. Available to watch through Kanopy via Unimelb Library.
Connection to Country, Tyson Mowarin (Director), 2017 [FILM]: This documentary follows a group of Indigenous people from the Pilbara as they battle to preserve Australia's unique cultural heritage from the ravages of a booming mining industry. In the heart of Western Australia, the Burrup Peninsula hosts the largest concentration of rock art in the world; a dramatic, ancient landscape so sacred that some parts shouldn't be looked upon at all except by Traditional Owners. Waves of industrialisation and development threaten sites all over the Pilbara. The Burrup has become home to salt mines, iron ore port facilities and one of Australia's largest gas plants. But the people of the Pilbara, forever connected to their country, forever responsible, are fighting back. Documenting the rock art, recording their sacred sites and battling to get their unique cultural heritage recorded, recognised and celebrated. Available to watch through Kanopy via Unimelb Library.
First Time Home, Kimberley Benjamin (Director), 2019 [FILM]: A young baby is introduced to her father's Yawuru Country for the first time. Guided by the spirit and voice of Country, baby Maya makes the journey from Melbourne to Broome with her parents. Available to watch until 8 December 2020 on SBS On Demand.
'Indigenous knowledge, sometimes called traditional or local knowledge, refers to the understandings and practices developed by Indigenous peoples through thousands of years of experience. Indigenous knowledge systems are characteristically holistic, relational, and rooted in a strong and continuing connection with the land, sky and waters. Knowledge is often passed down orally, and can be collectively owned. It can include or be embodied in language, song, story, ritual, lore, and customary practices.' - Melbourne Indigenous Knowledge Institute.
In My Blood it Runs, Maya Newell (Director), 2019 [FILM]: Ten-year-old Dujuan is a child-healer, a good hunter and speaks three languages. Yet Dujuan is ‘failing’ in school and facing increasing scrutiny from welfare and the police. As he travels perilously close to incarceration, his family fight to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western education lest he becomes another statistic. This film follows Dujuan as he grapples with these pressures, shares his truths and somewhere in-between finds space to dream, imagine and hope for his future self. Available to watch through Kanopy via Unimelb Library.
Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Author), 2018 [LITERATURE]: Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia's past is required. Available as ebook from Unimelb Library.
The government policy of forcibly removing children from their family has resulted in intergenerational trauma and loss of culture. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) undertook a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families which was published in 1997 and known as the 'Bringing Them Home' Report.
Servant or Slave, Steven McGregor (Director), 2015 [DOCUMENTARY]: Servant or Slave follows the lives of five Aboriginal women who were stolen from their families and trained to be domestic servants. With the government exercising complete control over their wages, many thousands of Aboriginal girls and boys were effectively condemned to a treadmill of abuse, from which there was little hope of escape. Available to rent on Vimeo.
The White Girl, Tony Birch (Author), 2019 [LITERATURE]: Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves. In The White Girl, Miles-Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch shines a spotlight on the 1960s and the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families. Available as ebook from Unimelb Library.
Culture sits at the heart of the everyday lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia and encompasses language, kinship, identity, and community relationships.
Transblack, Charmaine Ingram (Director), 2018, [FILM]: Transblack follows the day-to-day life of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander transgender men and women. This is the story of how they changed the perceptions of themselves and those closest to them. Available to watch on ABC iView.
Zach's Ceremony, Alec Doomadgee & Aaron Petersen (Directors), 2016, [FILM]: Growing up isn't easy, especially for Zach who is rapidly making the transition from boyhood to manhood, in both the modern world and his ancient culture. Pressures from his loving but staunch father, the temptations of city life, and the ever-present spectre of racism all take their toll. Ultimately, Zach must embrace the traditions and knowledge of his ancestors and awaken the warrior within. Available to watch through Kanopy via Unimelb Library.
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, Anita Heiss (Editor), 2018, [LITERATURE]: What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect. Available as ebook from Unimelb Library.
Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, Steven McGregor (Director), 2020, [FILM]: A songline for 21st century Australia – a fresh look at the Cook legend from a First Nations’ perspective – the songline tells of connection to country, resistance and survival and features the cheeky, acerbic and heartfelt showman – Steven Oliver and a host of outstanding Indigenous singer/songwriters. Available to view on SBS On Demand until 20 August 2021.
First Australians, Beck Cole & Rachel Perkins (DirectorS), 2008, [DOCUMENTARY]: First Australians chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its first people. First Australians explores what unfolds when the oldest living culture in the world is overrun by the world's greatest empire. Over seven episodes, First Australians depicts the true stories of individuals - both black and white - caught in an epic drama of friendship, revenge, loss and victory in Australia's most transformative period of history. Available to view on SBS On Demand.
Music conveys some of the most important commentary on life as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in Australia. During the 1980s, bands such as No Fixed Address, Coloured Stone and Yothu Yindi introduced music lovers to stories about Treaty, pride in Aboriginal culture, impacts of colonisation, and reconciliation. Modern song lines delivered by (but not limited to) Indigenous artists such as Briggs, Alice Skye, Baker Boy and Thelma Plum embrace themes of first contact, resistance, language and truth.
Briggs: Yorta Yorta lyricist, rapper, writer, actor, and founder/CEO of Bad Apples Music, Briggs (aka Adam Briggs) uses his lyrics to highlight many social injustices affecting First Peoples. Spotify | Instagram
Emma Donovan: Acclaimed singer-songwriter, Emma Donovan is part of the famed Donovan family of singers of the Gumbaynggirr people, of what is now known as Northern New South Wales. On her Father’s side, Emma is of the Yamatji people, of what is now known as Western Australia. Spotify | Instagram
Archie Roach: An Elder in the Australian music scene, Archie Roach is a singer-songwriter and Indigenous rights campaigner. Many of his songs are social statements and 'Took the Children Away' from his 1991 debut album 'Charcoal Lane' won a Human Rights Achievement Award. Spotify | Instagram
Baker Boy: Young, strong and proud Baker Boy raps in English and Yolngu Matha language representing his Arnhem Land family. Baker Boy was the 2019 Young Australian of the Year, and the National Indigenous Music Awards Artist of the Year in 2019 and 2020. Spotify | Instagram