Rugby Australia Chairman, Paul McLean and Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team President, Dean Duncan have issued the following joint statement on the opening day of National Reconciliation Week for 2020.
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving true and heartfelt reconciliation in Australia.
This is something which Rugby Australia and The Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team have been taking strides towards together over many years. This was strengthened with the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding in 2019, which commits both organisations to working together in a positive relationship for the continued growth of rugby in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the nation. This relationship closely aligns with this year’s theme of ‘In This Together’.
The dates for NRW remain the same each year – 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.
Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Much has happened since the early days of the people’s movement for reconciliation, including greater acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to land and sea; understanding of the impact of government policies and frontier conflicts; and an embracing of stories of Indigenous success and contribution. 2020 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000, when people came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation and show their support for a more reconciled Australia.
As always, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and Australians now benefit from the efforts and contributions of people committed to reconciliation in the past. This is no more evident than the work and commitment created by people such as Lloyd McDermott and our other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian representatives. It is with this in mind that Rugby Australia is proud to be recognised as the first national representative team to wear a national jersey incorporated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designs.
We are committed to work together to further that national journey towards a fully reconciled country.