A week of Reconciliation and Learning

Next week there are several dates of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander People.

  • 26 May - National Sorry Day/National Day of Healing - The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 March 1998, one year after the tabling of the Bring Them Home Report which was the result of an inquiry into the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. In 2005, the National Sorry Day Committee renamed Sorry Day as a National Day of Healing for all Australians. The day focuses on the healing needed throughout Australian society to achieve reconciliation.
  • 26 May to 3 June – National Reconciliation Week offers Australians with the opportunity to focus on reconciliation, to hear about the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and explore new ways of working within our communities.
  • 27 May – This day celebrates the 1967 referendum acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as citizens of Australia.

Yooralla will be recognising this important week through a series of insightful articles written by Michael J. Evans. Michael is a proud Indigenous man, with lifelong disabilities, identifies as a Torres Strait Islander and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Michael is also a Service Manager at one of Yooralla’s residential accommodation services.

During the week, we will share Michael’s articles on the following topics:

  • The difference between Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country
  • Sorry Business – explaining the cultural responsibilities and obligations when there is a loss of a family or community member
  • Disability, and what it means in Aboriginal culture
  • The Aboriginal family system, and
  • Aboriginal families.

Michael is recognised as an Elder in many Aboriginal communities across western NSW and has over 20 years of experience as a formal mentor to Aboriginal leaders working in identified management positions in the NSW public service. Michael has over 30 years of experience as a wheelchair user and has provided formal advocacy and informal mentoring for persons with disabilities for over 50 years.

Michael has over 40 years of experience in senior and middle management roles, including over 17 years employment with the NSW public service where he held senior positions such as Director Disability & Home Care Services in western NSW, as well as over 15 years employment with Telstra, where he held management positions such as Manager Corporate Services in regional Victoria.

He has written numerous articles promoting knowledge of Aboriginal culture and history and articles promoting knowledge of disabilities and the appreciation of the skills and contributions of persons with disabilities.

In 2012, Michael wrote a 200+ page information guide covering Indigenous culture and history in Australia. That resource is used extensively as a personal reference information guide, by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff engaging with Aboriginal communities. Michael has also featured in a Commonwealth government series profiling the life story of prominent community leaders with disability, and Michael was a Personal Achievement Award Finalist at the Federal Government National Disability Awards in Canberra.

Michael personalises his publications with a sign off “TAUM AKADAR” from his Meriam language, that translates in English as “pride in self”, which Michael says is a value fundamental to him living his culture.

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