Hands raised for reconciliation
FORTY years after Australians voted to give Aboriginal people the right of citizenship, a Coffs Harbour referendum has been held to raise greater awareness of how Indigenous Australians have influenced the national culture.
Students and staff from all three sectors of Coffs Harbour Education Campus were yesterday asked to vote in a mock referendum as part of their Reconciliation Week activities, which also included an information seminar, entertainment, movie night and leaving painted handprints on calico as a sign of friendship.
The week has added significance this year as it marks the 40th anniversary of the referendum that gave Aborigines the right to vote and the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report into the thousands of Aboriginal Australians separated from their families.
Aboriginal student support officer Shaun Hart said yesterday's activities were about creating unity and harmony on campus.
He also believes the most important aim of the week is to raise greater understanding.
"It's important to create more cultural awareness on campus, and to encourage all people, not just Aboriginals, to become involved in reconciliation," he said.
"Because this is where it starts ? with the next generation.
"By making our youth more aware, everyone will benefit in the future."
Reconciliation Week offers people across Australia the opportunity to focus on reconciliation and to hear about the culture and history of Australia's Indigenous people.