For even the most mild mannered couch spectator, there is something in the State of Origin, particularly if you are Queenslander that stirs passion up deep inside us. It is the special spirit that if it could be ‘bottled’ and sold would be the key ingredient to the success of so many things in our life. I often lament that it is a shame that this same passion isn’t translated to other aspects of our lives.
When it is all boiled down, this State of Origin is only about a game of football. In the big scheme of life it really is not that important. Despite this it dominates the front pages of the news cycle with most Queensland and New South Wales media outputs carrying reports on the game. As I write this week’s piece I am sitting in the afterglow of a Queensland victory and I have to admit my mindset is somewhat different to what it might have been in a Queensland loss. I do realise I am exactly what I have described in my intrigue about the State of Origin passion. Passion is both an incredibly powerful medium and at times it can be an incredibly limiting influence. Yo-Yo Ma was quoted as saying “passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something then you are more willing to take risks.” E. M. Fortser was quoted as saying “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” For me it is always interesting to see what captures our passion.
This week as a society we also celebrate National Reconciliation Week and sadly it is something that doesn’t grab most Australians passion and yet it is something that should command our passion. The reality is that Reconciliation should live in the hearts, minds and actions of us all as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. If you don’t know that this week is National Reconciliation Week it is not a criticism of you but rather a critique of the society that we live in that we don’t prioritise it.
At the College when we deal with issues and disagreements between students we try to operate through a restorative justice model. In this way we try and always acknowledge the harm that is caused and ensure that the ‘victim’ is involved in the process so that the person responsible is made aware of the harm that his actions have caused and the process is focussed on moving forward and building relationships rather than adopting a punitive model where the ‘victim’ has no role to play and his feelings are not actively addressed. The success of this resolution is premised on the person responsible for the harm acknowledging their role and where possible taking responsibility for this. Most schools would find that restorative justice processes are integral to building and repairing a community’s culture. I see that the National Reconciliation week is essentially about ensuring that the principles of restorative justice are put in place to allow our society to fully move forward. Each year National Reconciliation Week (NRW) focusses on trying to celebrate and build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The dates that bookend the National Reconciliation Week each are significant milestones in the reconciliation journey:
May 27—Marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. The 1967 referendum saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
3 June—Commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.
This is where the passion has a place in the reconciliation process. Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of us all as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. This year the theme for National Reconciliation week is Our History, Our Story, Our Future. Our History, Our Story, Our Future is derived from the State of Reconciliation in Australia report, which asks all Australians to reflect on our national identity, and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and rights in our nation’s story.
‘Our History’ reminds us all, that historical acceptance is essential to our reconciliation journey. Historical acceptance will exist when all Australians understand and accept the fact that past laws, practices and policies deeply affected the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, often having devastating immediate impacts and causing much of the disadvantage that exists today. It is a commitment to ensuring these wrongs are never repeated in the future.
‘Our Story’ reflects the fact that the journey towards reconciliation forms a significant part of Australia’s story, as do the stories of both trauma and triumph told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It also encourages each and every one of us to make reconciliation part of our own story.
‘Our Future’ reinforces that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, in the knowledge that we believe in fairness for everyone, that our diversity makes us richer and that together we are stronger.
As Australians, we are all here, woven into this country. As part of our reconciliation journey, there are truths to tell, stories to celebrate, and relationships to grow. In many ways reconciliation is at the heart of our nations’ future. I have always thought of myself as a dreamer. I often dream of what sort of a world we could live in if we could be passionate about the things that really matter in our world. Reconciliation is one of these things that I dream about. Do you have enough passion about this to just make the effort to be more informed about this thing called ‘reconciliation’? Do you have the passion to be a part of the solution rather than be a passive spectator sitting on the sidelines?
I would ask our community to please keep Tom and Matthew Perissinotto and their family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of their maternal great grandmother and Toby Rose and his family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his maternal grandfather. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the sense of loss that they all will no doubt feel and that in the grieving there is also time to celebrate the gift that their life brought to so many. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, May perpetual light shine upon them, May they rest in peace Amen.
With best wishes,