Importance of unity emphasised after Reconciliation Week

SPECIAL OCCASION: Port Adelaide players arriving in their Indigenous guernseys on Friday. Picture: Phillip Biggs
SPECIAL OCCASION: Port Adelaide players arriving in their Indigenous guernseys on Friday. Picture: Phillip Biggs

The importance of coming together as a community has been emphasised in the wake of Reconciliation Week.

With the national initiative concluding on Sunday, Reconciliation Tasmania executive director Fiona Hughes said the conversation needed to continue at a regional level.

“People need to come and have a chat,” she said.

“They may not agree on everything, but it’s a step toward understanding.

“We know we have a lot of work to do, but we are not going away.

“Tasmanian people seem to be embracing it really well and aren’t afraid to ask the right questions.”

The Reconciliation Week theme of ‘Don’t Keep History a Mystery’ would have been fresh in the minds of everyone at UTAS Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Hawthorn took on Port Adelaide in the AFL Indigenous Round. 

Winning team Hawthorn wore a Tiwi-inspired guernsey from Darwin artist Jennifer ‘Lulu’ Coombes, while Port Adelaide arrived in Launceston on the Tinamirakuna Boeing 737, which took its title from the indigenous name of Tasmania’s Macquarie River.

There has also been support for the cause from the Tasmanian State League, with Launceston Football Club donning a specially-designed guernsey for the first time.

Bill Lawson and Fiona Hughes.

Bill Lawson and Fiona Hughes.

Ms Hughes said she hoped other teams would follow LFC’s lead.

“You only have to look at the work of [guernsey designer] Darlene Mansell to see the role sport plays,” she said. 

The weekend’s sport was preceded by a host of events across the state, including reconciliation breakfasts in the South and North, as well as ‘On Country’ days in each region. 

Guests included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, who addressed Reconciliation Tasmania board members at the breakfasts.

Ms Hughes pointed to Mr Gooda’s speech as one of the highlights of the week.

“The way he spoke and his overall presentation was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

“He said reconciliation was happening all around Australia, and we all had to move forward with it.

“It was great to see some members of councils in the area showing up to the events.

“I think that is where some of the biggest progress has been made.”

Launched last year, Reconciliation Tasmania has a board comprised of six Tasmanian Aboriginals and six non-Aboriginal members.