National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week 2023 at the NFSA and online
The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2023 is 'Be a voice for generations'. Join us in celebrating at the NFSA wherever you are located – whether at a special event or screening or by exploring these online offerings from our collection.
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation.
The NFSA Statement of Reflection sets out where we are and what we need to do next in relation to First Nations materials in our collection. Our guest contributor, Nathan ‘mudyi’ Sentance, a Wiradjuri librarian and creative history practitioner, writes for us about the racist materials in the collections of institutions such as the NFSA and offers suggestions about how to make this content available to present and future generations without causing further harm.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this page may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons.
Screening and event at the NFSA
Join us in Canberra for a special screening of the acclaimed new Australian film Sweet As, followed by a Q&A with actors Shantae Barnes-Cowan and Carlos Sanson Jr. Inspired by a true story, Sweet As is an uplifting coming-of-age road movie about Murra (played by newcomer Shantae Barnes-Cowan) an Indigenous teenager whose life is changed when she discovers photography on a road safari in Western Australia. Book tickets to the screening on 2 June at 6pm.
The June edition of our regular Vinyl Lounge event will be devoted to First Nations artists for National Reconciliation Week. So come along and share your favourite First Nations records and requests. Book tickets for 2 June at 5.30pm, with drinks and snacks available from 5pm.
View Stories from our collection ONLINE
View these stories from our collection, specially curated to support the National Reconciliation Week theme, 'Be a voice for generations'.
Kutcha's Koorioke: Mo'Ju
In Kutcha's Koorioke, Kutcha Edwards chats with Indigenous artists as they travel around the streets of Melbourne in a car.
In this clip from episode 2 of series 2, Mo' Ju sings a soaring acapella version of their song 'Native Tongue' on the steps of Fitzroy Town Hall, witnessed by Uncle Jack Charles and Kutcha Edwards:
Plus: explore the First Nations Sounds of Australia collection for more recordings by and featuring First Nations performers.
This 2008 story from SBS TV's Living Black program is about the Chooky Dancers (now Djuki Mala) from Elcho Island, Arnhem Land.
When Frank Djirrimbilpilwuy uploaded a video of the group dancing to 'Zorba the Greek' in 2007, the YouTube clip went viral and led to them appearing at the Sydney Opera House and being invited to perform around the world:
Plus: explore profiles of prominent Australians in our First Nations Portraits collection.
The Madden sisters
Madeleine Madden has been acting since she was a child. At age 13, she delivered a two-minute address to the nation calling for all Australians to help end inequality and close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Before making her Hollywood debut in 2019, Madeleine had acted in short films, features and TV series in Australia, and played Marion in the limited series adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018).
In this clip, she pauses while climbing Hanging Rock with Miranda (played by Lily Sullivan), Irma (Samara Weaving) and Edith (Ruby Rees):
Madeleine's younger sister Miah Madden also began acting as a child, first appearing in The Sapphires (2012). Among her TV roles is the teen drama Dive Club (screening in Australia on 10 Shake and internationally on Netflix).
In this clip from the first episode, Chapter 1: Endurance (2021), Maddie (played by Miah Madden) and her friends Lauren (Georgia-May Davis), Stevie (Sana'a Shaik) and Anna (Aubri Ibrag) find a mysterious artefact while diving:
Plus: explore our Deborah Mailman collection. Deborah cast Madeleine in her short film Ralph (2009) and has appeared in TV projects featuring either or both sisters (including Redfern Now, Mystery Road and Little J & Big Cuz).
Reflecting on our collection and practices
Australia is the home of the world’s oldest continual living human cultures. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures belong only to this continent and so are at the heart of our distinctiveness as a nation.
The National Film and Sound Archive’s Statement of Reflection acknowledges that Australian collecting institutions such as ours were established along European lines and are therefore part of Australia’s colonial legacy. This perspective has influenced the selection, description and use of items in our collection and imposed biases, assumptions and narratives upon the voices of original First Nations storytellers.
We commit to unpicking these misleading and often damaging and hurtful impositions conscientiously and systematically. We seek to better understand the artefacts in our care, the cultural knowledge they contain, and how they can inform and enrich national culture for all Australians. This will take time and patience and care and generosity of spirit.
Read the complete Statement of Reflection.
‘As a Wiradjuri person working in historical collections, there is often a tension I feel looking at the material in these collections - a tension between joy and anger. I can feel the sun on my face, even in an archive's basement, when reading reminders of First Nations people’s ingenuity, humour, and resistance... And there is a tension in myself between wanting some of this material to never see the light of day and knowing how important access to it can be.’
Nathan 'mudyi' Sentance is a Wiradjuri librarian and creative history practitioner who grew up on Darkinjung Country and writes about critical librarianship and critical museology.
In the lead-up to National Reconciliation Week, he shares his thoughts with our readers on acknowledging the harmful racist and derogatory materials in archival collections, arguing for their preservation, and offering suggestions and provocations about how to make this content available without causing further harm.
Read the guest contribution by Nathan Sentance.
National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June.
Visit Reconciliation Australia for more National Reconciliation Week events, activities and information.
Main image: Shantae Barnes-Cowan as Murra in Sweet As (Jub Clerc, 2022) .