The Uluru Statement from the Heart

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day Art Competition

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Children's Day

Artwork Competition


The Reconciliation SAs Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day Artwork Competition aligns with this years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day 2021 Theme of:

‘Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit’.


This competition is aimed at promoting

  1.  Pride in First Nation culture
  2.  The importance of connection to culture
  3.  Relationship between culture and spirit

This competition will be open to all children across South Australia and will be split into age and artwork categories.

This competition is only possible through the generous sponsorship from the South Australian Department of Child Protection.


Artwork Category 1

Artwork Category 2

Colouring-In Picture provided
Original artwork designed by Karen Briggs
Original Visual Artworks
Mediums can include painting, drawing or photography
Age Group 1:   4 years and under
Age Group 2:   5 to 8 years of age
Age Group 1:   9 to 12 years of age
Age Group 2:   13 to 15 years of age
Age Group 3:   16 to 17 years of age
Please click here for original artwork by Karen Briggs
Please click here for entry submission form so we can contact you if you are the winner
Please click here for Terms and Conditions of Entry
Please click here for entry submission form so we can contact you if you are the winner
Please click here for Terms and Conditions of Entry
Please describe how this artwork represents this years theme of ‘Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit’
Prize for each Age Group includes:
  • Artwork made into a laminated poster x 10 to share with friends and family
  • Artwork made into drink bottle x 10 to share with friends and family
  • Artwork made into a puzzle x 10 to share with friends and family
Prize for each Age Group includes:
  • Artwork made into a laminated poster x 10 to share with friends and family
  • iPad 7th Gen 10.2” WiFi 128GB with decal of artwork on back


How to Enter

  • All information will be posted on Reconciliation SA website and social media pages.
  • Sponsoring partner will also provide access through their media platforms.
  • Entrants in Artwork Category 1 (Colouring-In Picture)
    • will have free access to Colouring-In Picture from Reconciliation SA Website and social media pages.
    • will be required to print Colouring-In Picture out, unless provided via a third party
    • will be required to submit both Colouring-In Picture and Contact Information Sheet
  • Entrants in Artwork Category 2 (Original Visual Artworks)
    • will need to supply their own creative works and materials
    • will be required to submit both a digital version of their original works and Contact Information Sheet
  • Work submitted must be the original work of the artist


Entrants must:

1.Provide high quality images of the finished work they wish to enter, digital images may be submitted by:

a) Email (

b) Upload via DropBox (please click here)

c) Private Messaged to Reconciliations SA on our facebook page

2. Provide artists statements

a)  Artwork Category 1 (Colouring-In Sheet)

If possible, a few words about what the picture means to the entrant (written by child or adult on behalf of child)

b)  Artwork Category 2 (Original Works)

Describe how this artwork represents this years theme of ‘Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit’

3. Provide Contact Information Sheet

a) Category 1

b) Category 2


Important Dates

Artwork Promotion/Start Date Now
Artwork Submission/Completion Date 4 August 2020, 5pm
Artwork Judging Date 6 August 2020
Winners advised 10 August 2020
Winner Public Announcement Date 11 August 2020


Please Remember to Lodge

  1. Artwork Piece
  2. Artists Statement
  3. Contact Information (Category 1 or Category 2)

To download a copy of the T&Cs and an entry form, click here.

Please contact for further information and support.


Representation. Why does it matter?

In early 2020 a study was released that essentially proved the existence of unconscious bias against First Nations people from Australia in seventy-five per cent of people.

The study was conducted by academics from the Australian National University. The data measured was taken over a ten-year period from over eleven thousand subjects. The study’s finding was that “implicit or unconscious bias toward our first Australians is not imagined”, that quote coming from Siddarth Shirodkar, the report’s author.

So, what is unconscious bias exactly?

In an interview with ABC radio, Mr Shirodkar explains "Implicit bias, or unconscious bias is a person's automatic reaction when they're presented with a particular stimulus. So, for example, if a person associates more positive terms with an Indigenous face, and negative terms with a Caucasian face, they're seen as having a bias in favour of Indigenous faces. But the reality is, 75 per cent of Australians who were tested in this — and that was over 11,000 people — displayed an implicit bias towards Caucasian faces: so, associating positive terms with Caucasians.”

And what is representation? And why is it important?

Representation, as referred to in this article, is the way that media, in all its forms – news, television, films etc, deals with ethnicity, age, gender, national and regional identity, social issues and more.

Bill Leak's racist cartoons drew constant criticism.

This makes these mediums very powerful in the way it can influence the world around them.

This includes the way that text is constructed. Word placement and sentence structure. Or in film and television, camera angles and editing can make a difference. Image choice (location, outfits, makeup, hair do’s etc) is also a factor.

Other factors include mediation, or what processes has the piece of work may been through before an audience can see it. For example, has a film based on First Nations culture had First Nations consultants? Have newspaper articles been fact-checked?

Selection is also a factor, what has been chosen to be included? Which facts have made the report? Do they tell the whole story? What words have been selected to accompany images?

Stereotypes is also a big factor, what characteristics of a certain group are chosen to have been shown? Are they accurate, or exaggerated?

And finally, who has chosen the standards by which these things are decided? What are their ideologies? What are their beliefs? Have they influenced these standards? Are they politically affiliated? Or do they have conflicting interests?

Several times in Australia, the media has misrepresented First Nations peoples leading to legal action, for breach of the racial discrimination act or racial vilification. Channel 7 faced legal action in 2018 for a segment that made dangerous assumptions about First nations children, parents and used stock footage of children that had nothing to do with the story being told and giving false information. A consequence of the story was an increase in racism on social platforms.

The same issue occurred again in 2018, except this time it was reported by several broadcasters and publishers that ‘African Gangs’ had essentially taken over Melbourne. Speaking about the Melbourne African community, Melbourne’s Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton told The Guardian that "The vast majority are good people This is a small group of youths. We will target them. We will hold them to account.” The result of these reports was once again, a rise in racism against the African and Immigrant communities.

A third example of the effects of negative representation is the effects that reporting around the coronavirus had. While there does not seem to be any legal action taken against any broadcasters or publishers in Australia, Former American President Donald Trump was heavily criticized for the language he has used when speaking about coronavirus. The language that is reported here in Australia, and as such, it was easy to see the rise in racism against anyone of Asian appearance in Australia and China in general.

According to “unconscious bias can manifest in many ways, such as how we judge and evaluate others.”

And according to a TED TALK by Christiane-Marie Abu Sarah, a behaviourist historian who studies aggression, moral cognition and decision making, “we make decisions based on the information we trust, yeah? So, if we trust bad information, we're going to make bad decisions.” Sarah also says that this information often comes from what is called an information bubble.

An information bubble is information from a select number of sources that reinforce your worldview, political views and opinions.

What I personally see when I look at the news, whether it be online. on television or otherwise, information is given one of two labels. Left or right. The truth is that information and data have no political affiliation, it can't, it simply exists. But that doesn't mean the way that information is spread hasn't given an unintended narrative; the responsibility of truth lies upon the reader, listener and watcher in these cases.

Given the above information, it is clear that the wrong type of representation in the media, and in general is a direct cause of both conscious and unconscious bias. Unconscious bias can be so embedded, that according to Sarah, “If I show you a picture of two different coloured hands, and sharp pins being driven into the different coloured hands, if you’re white, the chances are that you will experience the most sympathetic activation, or the most pain when you see a pin going into the white hand.” She also explains that

someone who is not white will have the exact same experience when seeing the same things happen to a hand that is similar to their own. Sarah says that this is not a biological occurrence. It is learned behaviour. And that the more experiences a person has with communities unlike their own, the more that person will feel their pain, and see them more like themselves.

Essentially, if a person sees the same thing, every day, without change, their opinions also will never change. But if they ensure they see a range of content and have a range of experiences, then they are more capable of changing their opinion.

So the right representation can do wonders.

In 2018 when Black Panther was released, First Nations actress Shareena Clanton organised a fundraiser to get First Nations and African children to the cinema, ensuring that they can see people like them on the big screen. On a Q&A appearance on the ABC, Shareena went on to say that “It’s about ascension of blackness. It’s about empowering our next generation.”

The idea that the right representation can make the difference that Shareena spoke of, is proved by African American transgender actress Laverne Cox. In a recent video interview, Laverne said that the first time she felt her identity was truly represented on screen was when she saw Transgender actress Candis Cayne cast in a lead role in the 2008 television show Dirty Sexy Money, alongside William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland. “It was historic for me” Laverne goes onto say, and that “Candis made me believe I could be who I was”.

The reverse was said by popular actor, Ojibwa (First Nations Canadian) man Adam Beach about the casting of a non-First Nations actress, as a prominent First Nations character in the hit Kevin Costner series, Yellowstone. Beach even called for a boycott on the series, saying "Failure in Diversity. I’m asking my Native Actors to stay away from this project. “Yellowstone” is telling the world that there are no Native actresses capable of leading a TV show."

In contrast, Beach himself starred in the 2002 Nicolas Cage film Windtalkers, which was in many ways about the use of Navajo code talkers during world war two. Beach once said in an interview once, when offered the part, Beach told the film's producers he could only do it if they asked permission from the Navajo Nation, to which he said the producers "thought I was crazy". However, the producers did just that and Beach was given permission to play the part provided that real Navajo Nation members were hired for any other Navajo code talker roles.

Not only did representation from previous films give Adam Beach give the outside world a positive look at him as an actor, the Navajo Nation and their contribution as code talkers through the film, but it also changed the power dynamic. Beach said, "they had to follow lead because they wanted me to play the role".

Something as simple as a person seeing themselves represented in the right way can lead to self-belief, confidence, value, but also can change the way others see us as well and as Adam Beach explained above, it can also help change power dynamics.

That is why representation matters.


Written By Travis Akbar





The Last Wave – A Culturally Appropriated Classic

The Last Wave is a 1977 effort stemming from the extremely capable hands of famed film director Peter Weir, whose films before and since include Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) Witness (1985) The Truman Show (1998) and many more.  

Starring Beverly Hills born Richard Chamberlain, who played the original Jason Bourne in 1988, The Last Wave follows David Burton (Chamberlain) A Sydney lawyer defends five First Nations Persons after a ritualized taboo murder and in the process learns disturbing things about himself and premonitions. Among these characters is Chris Lee (David Gulpilil), a ‘tribal Aborigine’ who helps David understand what he’s going through.  

The Last Wave is what I would call, overall, an Australian classic. Peter Weir creates a great atmosphere, he derives fantastic performances from his cast and gets the best out of cinematographer Russel Boyd. The script, coming from Tony Morphett, Petru Popescu and Weir himself, provides good pacing.  

Remarkably, the script is also quite respectful of Aboriginal people. It speaks of massacres, turning First nations lives upside down, land theft and more. It’s only derogatory comment coming from a police officer, intended to be seen as an undesirable character. 

In contrast, Road Games, an Australian thriller from the same era (1981) which also utilized an international cast, did not speak of First Nations people at all, but did depict racism through its choice of shots. In one scene, inside a very Australian-centric roadhouse has a mural of a brutal massacre of Aboriginal people on its wall, while in another there are derogatory terms written on the wall.  

Ironically, Road Games American stars Stacy Keach and Jamie-Lee Curtis were not treated well by the Australian crew, who accused them of coming to Australia and taking their jobs. 

Despite its obvious qualities, The Last Wave does become problematic in one area.  

Cultural Appropriation.  

So, what is ‘cultural appropriation’? 

To keep it simple and quote Oxford Dictionaries, which only put the phrase into its official lexicon in 2017, cultural appropriation is “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.” 

The Last Wave fits this definition perfectly. But how? 

Even in 2021 First Nations people are not a dominant culture in this country, constantly used as a political tool, the constant victims of both Unconscious Bias (75% of Australians hold a negative bias toward First Nations people according to a 2019 ANU study) and plain old racism (just log in to Facebook) while according to another ANU study, to get the same amount of job interviews, First Nations people in Australia must apply for at least 33% more jobs than their non-Indigenous counterparts.  

So, what must the ’70s have been like? 

Only 3 years prior was the 1967 referendum. A great feat no doubt, but these key moments occurred in the ’70s, meaning that the vote didn’t equate to equality.  

  • 1971 – Aboriginal Flag first flown during a land rights march in Adelaide. 
  • 1972 – Tent Embassy is formed on the lawns of Parliament House.  
  • 1973 – Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement is formed in Adelaide. 
  • 1975 – National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation (NAIHO) is formed. 
  • 1979 – House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs Report Aboriginal Health, States that poor Aboriginal Health is due to low standards of environmental and housing conditions, socio-economic factors and inappropriate health services. 
  • The Stolen Generations continued throughout the ’70s. 

While these key points are positive (aside from the Stolen Generations) they are a sign of the negative landscape that First Nations people were living in, in the ’70s.  

Knowing all that, the fact is that the First Nations people of Australia are battling for basic rights at the same time that non-Indigenous screenwriters, film directors and stars are making a film that is heavily influenced by First Nations people and culture. It also seems to depict what appears to be Mayan styles of artwork in conjunction with creating its own prophecy or dreaming story. 

It is pure cultural appropriation.  

Unfortunately, David Gulpilil’s presence, as well as the other First Nations actors, while significant does not change that. Cultural Appropriation, however, is not something that impacts plot, structure or writing. It’s a conversation about morals and ethics, one that is had outside of what makes a film good or bad.  

Those issues aside, The Last Wave is a well-made fantasy drama.  

Where it fits within Reconciliation is in the respectability given to First Nations people through its dialogue (despite the appropriation) and putting First Nations actors on the big screen alongside someone of Richard Chamberlain’s status. While sadly, most First Nations actors would not go on to do any more acting. 

However, David Gulpilil’s next feature film role would be a small one in The Right Stuff in which he shared screen time with popular American actor Dennis Quaid.  


Written by Travis Akbar

It is time for a Heart to Heart by Dwayne Coulthard

Written by Dwayne Coulthard

Four years have passed since the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart was eloquently delivered at the First Nations’ National Constitutional Convention in May 2017. The Convention was attended by 250 First Nations delegates and was the culmination of an exhaustive consultation process involving over 1500 First Nations people around the nation. As a proud signatory to the Statement, I was honoured to be part of this monumental moment and believe wholeheartedly in the movement for Voice, Treaty and Truth.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a roadmap for real change, envisioned by First Nations peoples. The Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people to embark on this journey with us. To create substantive reform. In order to stay true to and fulfill the spirit and mandate of the Statement from the Heart, a First Nations Voice to Parliament must be enshrined in the Australian Constitution.

Dwayne Coulthard

“In order to stay true and fulfill the promise within the Statement from the Heart,

a First Nations Voice to Parliament must be enshrined in the

Australian constitution.”

But we cannot make this demand alone, we need all Australians to raise their voices, to ensure that our voice is heard. Passionate First Nations youth are spearheading the movement to support a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament because it is our lives and our future generations who will either have the opportunity to thrive in this nation, or continue to be powerless and have to deal with the same issues we are facing today. There is too much at stake to settle for anything less than what we truly deserve, a rightful place within the nation’s founding document.

This is a crucial moment. It is now the time to be bold and brave by showing your support for a constitutionally enshrined Voice. The power of the Uluru Statement from the Heart cannot be understated. It was gifted to the people and now the power is in your hands to make the Uluru Statement come true. #StayTrue2Uluru

Dwayne Coulthard                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Adnyamathanha/Kokatha

RAP Art Stuns at Reconciliation Week Breakfast

Reconciliation SA Innovate RAP Art Story

The artwork, by mother and daughter Sally Scales & Josephine Mick (Collaborative) This is the creation story for Wati Tjakura, an edible skink lizard. This took place at Aralya, sacred country. The army of Wati Wanambi (male water snakes) came from Malara and threw spears at Wati Tjakura. He tried to escape but they killed him. His family came down to bury him.

Josephine Watjari Mick was born in 1955 to revered artist Kuntjiriya Mick, at a site near Pukatja (Ernabella). She grew up mostly in the eastern APY Lands and has strong family ties in this area. When she was a young girl, Josephine had a vivid dream in which she saw a bright tongue of fire. In the dream, she walked towards the fire and thought she had burnt her hands, but when she woke up, she realised her hands were hot. Shortly after, Josephine started working as a Ngangkari (or traditional healer). She believes that her dream had given her the power to do so. She has mostly focussed her healing work on women and children. During the homelands movement of the 1970s, Josephine moved to Pipalyatjara. As well as being a Ngangkari (traditional healer), Josephine is very involved in cultural business. She has also been an active member of Ninuku Arts and has held the role of director several times. She now resides in Adelaide with her daughter Sally Scales and paints with the APY Art Centre Collective’s: APY Studio Adelaide

Sally Scales is a Pitjantjatjara woman from Pipalyatjara in the far west of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in remote South Australia. Sally was a Project Officer with Tjanpi Desert Weavers from 2008 – 2010 and worked in the education sector from 2014-2018 on the remote schools’ strategy. Sally has worked with the APY Art Centre Collective since 2013 in Cultural Liaison, Elder Support and Spokesperson roles. Sally turned her focus to her artistic practice in 2020 and held her first exhibition at the APY Gallery Adelaide in March 2021. It was a sell-out exhibition.

Reconciliation SA Launches Innovate RAP Plan

It’s been almost a month since the initial launch, but the release of Reconciliation SA’s June newsletter is the perfect time to announce to anyone that missed the National Reconciliation Breakfast that Reconciliation SA launched their own Innovate RAP plan.

Reconciliation SA CEO Shona Reid says “As an advocate and supporter of the Reconciliation Australia RAP program we believe the best way to demonstrate our own commitment to Reconciliation is to engage with the South Australian community with passion to ensure active and meaningful participation in our programs.

We believe that by developing and implementing this RAP we are leading by example, being accountable to our community and taking action to achieve our deep commitment to creating a just, equitable and reconciled South Australia.”

The Reconciliation SA RAP Working Group worked diligently for more than twelve months to develop the plan which they believe truly encompasses the meaning and vision of reconciliation. The working group included Reconciliation SA team, board members as well as community members including Mr. Bill Denny, who said of the RAP plan “Reconciliation is the single biggest cultural and moral challenge facing our nation today. We will never be able to successfully embrace a shared future until each one of us accepts the devastating impact our colonial past had on First Australians. Reconciliation Action Plans are an immediate, essential tool that will help us achieve that objective.”

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine, who was in attendance at the National Reconciliation Week Breakfast to experience the launch, said “As an organisation whose core business is reconciliation, Reconciliation SA is ‘walking the talk’ and holding themselves accountable to the program they passionately advocate for and promote. This is a testament to their leadership, from the Board through to volunteers, and their belief in the importance of ensuring and maintaining the cultural
integrity of their organisation.”

The RAP group will continue to meet and plan for the next stage of the Reconciliation Action Plan, due to launch in May 2023.

To read the entire RAP, please click here.

National Reconciliation Week Schools Film Competition Winners and Entries

This year during Reconciliation Week the annual Reconciliation SA Film Competition was held once more with great success. The films that were entered were of a high quality and demonstrated with great positivity the commitment that school communities have toward a just and equitable society through reconciliation.

The formats of the films varied, from documentary style, to short films with storylines. The variety in entries was a great aspect of the competition and made judging difficult.

Among the judges for the films included esteemed film actor Trevor Jamieson whose latest roles have included the 2019 remake of Storm Boy and the well-received colonial set The Furnace, South Australian Film Corporation First Nations Industry Development Executive Nara Wilson and The commissioner for children and young people SA and Reconciliation co-chair Helen Connolly, as well as Reconciliation SA CEO Shona Reid.

Of being able to judge the contest, Nara said “It was such a privilege to be asked to judge the Reconciliation SA School Film competition for the first time. It is really inspiring to see such young people making films, and sharing their stories through screen, particularly around such important issues as Reconciliation, and that this is also being embraced so strongly by schools. I congratulate everyone who entered on their fantastic work, and look forward to seeing them go on to become the next generation of great South Australian filmmakers.”

Reconciliation SA is excited to announce the winner of the competition as being Westport Primary School, located in Semaphore Park. The video demonstrates the schools commitment to reconciliation, and taking action to achieve it by giving insight to the schools ongoing programs in which students can do activities such as woodwork to create a set pair of clapsticks.

The film also had crisp, stable footage with a number of impressive drone shots.

It is clear from the documentary style film that reconciliation is a concept at the heart of Westport Primary.

The runner up for the competition was Cardijn College Galilee, whose film demonstrated a clear understanding of the theme of reconciliation week for 2021, and also offered great insight into how much it means to the school community at Cardijn College Galilee.

There were seven other high quality entries that had to be considered, but unfortunately there was only able to be one winner and one runner up.

Congratulations to this years winner, Westport Primary School, whose video was made with a high qaulity and demonstrated to a  high degree that reconciliation is more than a word. Reconciliation takes action.

Congratulations to Cardijn College Galillee, which came in runner up in our competition. The high quality video demonstrated a clear understanding to reconciliation.

Reconciliation South Australia, along with out sponsors, the South Australian Film Corporation and Reconciliation Australia would like to thank the rest of our entrants, whose films can be seen below in no particular order.

These schools efforts in reconciliation in education is key for a just and equitable society in the future. For more resources on reconciliation in education, please click here.