The river to reconciliation

Archaeological evidence shows Indigenous people - my mob - have lived in Australia for at least 50,000 years. 

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Source: Images provided by Ruby Gaile.

When Europeans settlers arrived, colonial law, policies and practices affected Indigenous people in ways none of us can imagine. 

"To me, our current time is another dreamtime.”

This National Reconciliation Week it’s important we all take time to sit and reflect upon why Indigenous culture and post-colonial history still struggle to be united.

I believe we are all a brother and sisterhood - short-term custodians of the land, surrounded by the sea, we call Australia.

I was recently pondering who was here before us, and what they were doing before the ships arrived - how did they live, and how did they pass?

I also thought of those who today have not experienced the opportunities I have enjoyed and often cannot live as well as many of us do.

My cultural heritage demands that I too actively seek reconciliation. Not because of guilt, but because of a sense of what is real.

I seek my inner peace in reflection – it’s my time to look forward to tomorrow, as all my yesterdays have passed me by.  

To me, our current time is another dreamtime.

I hope other Victorians, both Aboriginal and not Aboriginal, find time to think about their own values and the opportunities presented to them in life in order to influence true reconciliation.

Let’s swim with the current and stand together to make a difference. 

A time to learn

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June.

The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

It is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation movement.

Don’t keep history a mystery

According to their website, Reconciliation Australia says “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”.

Acknowledging the history of Indigenous Australia, pre- and post-colonisation, is “essential to our reconciliation journey.” 

Colonisation practices often had devastating immediate impacts that caused much of the disadvantage that exists today.

Accepting this history is a commitment to ensuring these wrongs are never repeated in the future, it says.

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To leave with you one last thought - the river to reconciliation in Australia has been often bumpy and difficult to navigate. There have been twists and turns, floods and drought, and sometimes we lose our way and get wet and encounter things that challenge our commitment. 

All I ask of you is to try be ‘black for a day’ by exploring my mob’s past, learn more about our history and culture and develop your own personal and deeper understanding of our national indigenous storyline.

Reconciliation is everybody's business, so it’s time for everyone to get involved. 

Anthony Cavanagh is CEO of Ganbina and a Taungurung Man from North East Victoria.

Ganbina is internationally recognised as a pioneering community charity for delivering Australia’s most impactful ‘School to Work’ transition programs for Indigenous Children and Youth. Learn more about Ganbina at

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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