Celebrating National Reconciliation Week
By Ellen Blake
The Koorie Heritage Trust is marking this year’s National Reconciliation Week by partnering with the National Gallery of Victoria.
Koorie Heritage Trust chief executive Tom Mosby said National Reconciliation Week, which runs from 27 May to 3 June, offered an opportunity for the broader community to reconcile with Indigenous Australians and the injustices of the past.
“It’s about acknowledging the past and the reasons why the community faces some of the issues it does, such as a gap in education and health outcomes,” Mr Mosby said.
“It’s about understanding and trying to bridge the gap.”
The centrepiece of the Koorie Heritage Trust’s Reconciliation Week program is The Rivers Sing artwork, which has been commissioned for Melbourne’s new winter arts festival RISING.
The large-scale sonic artwork was composed by acclaimed Yorta Yorta/Yuin opera singer Deborah Cheetham AO, with artists Thomas Supple and Byron J. Scullin.
The piece was due to be performed at sunrise and sunset along Birrarung Marr from May 26 to June 6, but has been suspended due to COVID.
In the six-week lead-up to its performance, The Rivers Sing has travelled along the Birrarung and Maribyrnong rivers collecting and layering the voices of singers for the work.
The work aims to unite the urban environment with the landscape of the ancient meeting place.
Alongside The Rivers Sing piece, the Koorie Heritage Trust will also host artist conversations and cast a projection onto Federation Square throughout the week.
The theme of National Reconciliation Week for 2021 is “More than a word. Reconciliation takes action”, which urges people to focus on taking action to achieve equality between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
Mr Mosby said too often the onus of reconciliation was put onto the indigenous community.
“It’s up to non-indigenous people to actually do the work and put reconciliation into action,” Mr Mosby said.
This year marks 20 years since Reconciliation Australia was established in 2001 •