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National Reconciliation Week
02 June 2016
National Reconciliation Week celebrates and builds upon the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.
The anniversary of Australia’s 1967 referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history is marked on 27 May. The referendum saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
The 3 June commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised the land rights of the Meriam people, traditional owners of the Murray Islands in the Torres Strait, and paved the way for Native Title.
Throughout the year judges and staff have availed themselves of the opportunity to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous Peoples through Koori cultural training, as well as cultural walks along Birrarung Marr (otherwise known as the River of Mists).
At the official opening of Geelong's legal year, Justice Croft welcomed to the Bench for the Ceremonial Sitting Uncle David Tournier, a Senior Elder of the Wathaurong people.
As part of Reconciliation Week celebrations and at the invitation of the Court, Uncle Bill, a respected Elder from the Wurundjeri Council, will speak with staff and judges about Wurundjeri history including William Barak, who was a member of the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi wurrung people and a passionate advocate for Indigenous social justice.
A portrait of William Barak hangs in the Supreme Court Library.
“William Barak, otherwise known as 'King William, [the] last Chief of the Yarra Yarra tribe' was a remarkable Australian,” said the Chief Justice at the portrait’s unveiling.
The portrait holds pride of place among the Court’s past and present Chief Justices in the library. Members of the public are welcome to come along and view the painting.