Women’s Reconciliation Network Story Timeline

Birthing event NSW State Library, 1996 

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WRN – May 2021, celebrating 25 years of advocacy for First Nations people. Photo: Lyn Turnbull SSH

This Timeline is book ended with WRN’s birthing event in 1996 and its recent 2021 Spirit Event marking 25 years of activities. Dip into the hyperlinks for further context.

1992-1995: The government’s Formal Reconciliation  processes began, initially with two separate groups, First Nations and non- Indigenous  Australians. In NSW Shelley Reys and John and Elaine Telford respectively were chosen to lead this enterprise.

1996– 1997: To mark the formal launch of the Inaugural National Reconciliation Week a special women’s event was held at the NSW State Library. The story of that watershed day was recorded in Healing Our Nation Through Women’s Wisdom, book cover by Elaine Russell; to learn more about Aunty Elaine see; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teBwzk9u63w; art biog, https://www.daao.org.au/bio/elaine-russell/biography/

1998–  The video production, Around the Kitchen Tableco-ordinated by Lisa Pulver Jackson; WRN’s 2nd Spirit Eventmoved west to University Western Sydney, special guest Hazel Hawke, naming ceremony, blessing of babies, tree planting

1999–  National co-ordinated Spirit Events, held simultaneously at 1pm

Redfern Dawn, Day, Dusk Spirit of Place; Blue Mountains; Canberra; Gold Coast; Darwin; Adelaide.  

2000Bridge Walks 

 Shelley Reys recalls: I remember looking around me and thinking ‘all these people have woken up early and rather than staying tucked in bed with the paper and a hot cuppa, or going shopping or taking the kids to sport, they’ve joined us in this remarkable show of strength.” https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/when-australia-walked-the-talk-the-2000-reconciliation-bridge-walks

2001–  Spirit Event: Our Ancestry: Understanding Our Roots; hosting Community Forum, ‘Trust, Truth, Treaty’ in partnership with Australians for Reconciliation at the Town Hall of Marrickville and Chatswood led by Tony McAvoy and Susan Phillips. 

2002– Partnership Building with the International Grammar School, Broadway to celebrate the annual cultural day event. Twenty-seven First Nations people led workshops of art classes, dance, and forum. Kiri Hata, Maori presenter, guided the participants in a simulated Human Rights Court at the Youth Forum 

2003–  Submission preparation and delivery at Parliament House, Senate Inquiry Progress in Reconciliation NSW. WRN members- Sally Fitzpatrick, Lisa Jackson, Deborah Wall, Elaine Telford; 

 2004– Partnership Building Barnados; Campaign Stolen wages and Health; Spirit Event Meriden School

2005Around the Kitchen Table Resource launched by Marie Bashir Ac Governor NSW. This publication earned one of its authors’ Sally Fitzpatrick a Book Review of the year; Spirit Event Santa Sabina College 

2006Spirit Event WRN 10th Anniversary 

Deborah Ruiz Wall poetry book, Reconciliation, Love and other poems; Partnership building with Dep Health.

2007– Partnership Building event using Around the Kitchen Table resource with Bathurst Community, hosted Mercy Sisters; Sally Fitzpatrick represented WRN at Garma Keynote forum. 

2008– National Sorry Day Apology by Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd; Spirit Event Looking Ahead, New Horizons. WRN members attended various Sorry Day celebrations. 

2009-2011: Spirit Events. Opening Hearts and Minds, Blue Mountains. Tree of Life process;

Co-hosting Community forum at UNSW with Sarah Maddison author of Colonial Fantasy Why White Australia Cant Solve Black Problems. Broome launch of the book, Reconciliation, Love and Other Poems. 

2012- 2015: Funding procured to host community forums for Recognise Campaign , Redfern, Paddington, and Ashfield. (https://www.reconciliation.org.au/recognise-campaign-successful-in-raising-awareness/

The final forum, in Ashfield in partnership with ANTaR and Marrickville Australians for Reconciliation was filmed and produced as DVD, Exploring Perspectives.

In 2015 this resource was showcased in Brisbane to a national gathering of the Institute of Cultural Affairs.

2016- 20th Anniversary Spirit Event of WRN; ABC journalist, Amanda Ho interviewed WRN members about WRN’s journey; ‘Possum skin Cloak’ (Story-telling) by guest speaker, Lyn Riley; Spirit Event  

2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart given to the Australian people; Yarning circle presentation ‘Exploring and Understanding Song-line by Joanna Selfe

2017- 2018: WRN members join a major new campaign supporting Constitutional Change for Voice, Treaty, Truth; members represented at the NSW Reconciliation Thomas Mayor workshop then have their own workshop . Uluru Statement cloth banner carried to northern NSW and Queensland for signing  

2019–  Aunties documentary Launch at the Redfern Community Centre with 120 guests. Christmas Lunch prepared by Aunty Beryl Van Oploo to celebrate Christmas and birthdays.

2020– WRN planning meeting and lunch held at the home of WRN member, Frennie Beytagh; several deposits of the WRN Archives given to Ronald Briggs, NSW State Library; Memorial for WRN member, Pat Zinn; celebrated Aunty Ali Golding’s 80th birthday held in Redfern.

2021– Submission to Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process Interim Report to the Australian Government, March 2021

WRN celebrated its 25th Anniversary in May