Delegates from State and Territory reconciliation councils across the country converged on Queensland’s parliament house in Brisbane over two days in November 2018 for the Australian Reconciliation Network annual face-to-face meeting.

Special guests included RQI’s Patrons Dr Jackie Huggins and Dame Quentin Bryce, Yuggera Elder and Traditional Custodian Uncle Des Sandy, and Mr Ian Mackie, Deputy Director General at Queensland’s Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

Reconciliation Queensland Incorporated (RQI) non-Indigenous Co-Chair Peter Jackson said he was pleased to host this key opportunity for the Australian Reconciliation Network to share learnings and develop joint strategies for the coming year.

“All the State Council’s work very closely with Reconciliation Australia, but only once a year do we actually get together in person,” Peter said.

“For some of the delegates, this was the first time they had met. Getting to know each other as individuals is another important aspect to this meeting,” he said.

“I want to thank in particular Uncle Des for his Welcome to Country on day one of the meeting. We value enormously the contribution of traditional owners to our national journey toward reconciliation.

“Likewise, I am very grateful to Ian for addressing the delegates on day one of the gathering and to the former Governor General Quentin Bryce for day two. We are all the more wiser thanks to their insights,” Peter said.

Australian Reconciliation Network agenda

Among the second day’s presenters was Diana David, the recently appointed CEO of Reconciliation Victoria, who spoke about her prior role working for the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission.

Diana is a descendant of the Kaanju nation from central Cape York Peninsula and Kulkagau Ya Iama, western Torres Strait Islands. She has a background in government, community development and engagement.

Other discussions were aimed at aligning strategic priorities around the five dimensions of reconciliation.

Also on the agenda were Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plans program and Narragunnawali program, the latter of which supports schools and early learning services to foster a higher level of knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.

Less weighty matters were dealt with at the end of day one, when delegates gathered at the Port Office Hotel in Brisbane for dinner and to hear from lawyer turned comedian Leon Filewood.

In a routine infused with his award-winning brand of humour, Leon spoke on his life experiences as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man and the need for reconciliation.

RQI delegation

As the host organisation, RQI was well represented at the Australian Reconciliation Network meeting. Peter Jackson was the Executive Support person and Chairperson over the two days.

Attendees also included RQI Aboriginal Co-Chair Aunty Heather Castledine, Uncle Bill Buchanan, Aunty Denise Proud, Treasurer Simon Brooks and Secretary Linda Harnett. Jodie Silao and Danielle Guinea attended as observers.