National Reconciliation Week 2017: guide

National Reconciliation Week takes place from May 27 – June 3.

This year marks the 50th year anniversary of the 1967 Referendum on 27 May, and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision on 3 June;

NITV will reflect on the events of the past from Sunday May 21, acknowledging those who have been affected, and commemorates the Stolen Generation.


Young & Black *
Tuesday 23 May at 7.30pm
The Feed’s Laura Murphy-Oates was born in the 1990s. Her life as an Indigenous Australian was supposed to be easier and more inclusive than generations before her.  After all, it was the time of Mabo, the Native Title Act, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaths in Custody, the Bringing Them Home report and Keating’s famous Redfern speech.
However, it was also the first time we met One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, who said in her maiden speech that:
“Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia”. 
It’s now fifty years after the birth of reconciliation with the 1967 referendum, and this generation were supposed to inherit a very different society – but how did the dichotomy in public and political opinion affect Indigenous children of the 90s, how much has changed, and what (and who) is still the same? Young & Black is a new 30 minute documentary special produced by The Feed team airing in the lead up to National Reconciliation Week, in which Laura meets four prominent young Indigenous Australians to unpack the truth about what it means to be young and black in Australia today.


Case 442 *
Sunday, 21 May 7.30pm on NITV
Frank Byrne was forcibly removed from his mother Maudie at the age of five, and has been searching and yearning for her almost all of his life. After 60 years, Frank has finally found her amongst the patient case records of Perth’s Claremont Mental institute where she was incarcerated and eventually buried in a pauper’s grave.
Frank’s determination and need for closure sees him promise and prepare to have Maudie’s remains exhumed and returned back to her country for the burial she deserves.
Case 442 intimately follows Frank’s painful struggle and the final laying to rest of his mother.

Message from Mungo
Sunday 21 May, 8.30pm
Lake Mungo is an ancient Pleistocene lake-bed in south-western New South Wales, and is one of the world’s richest archaeological sites. Message from Mungo focuses on the interface over the last 40 years between the scientists and the Indigenous communities who identify with the land and with the human remains revealed at the site. This interface has often been deeply troubled and contentious, but within the conflict and its gradual resolution lies a moving story of the progressive empowerment of the traditional custodians of the area.
The film tells a new story that has not been represented in print or film before, told entirely by actual participants from both the science and Indigenous perspectives. It was made over an eight year period and included extensive consultation with members of the Indigenous communities at Mungo.

The Point *
The Point presenter, Natalie Ahmat and NITV News will be in Central Australia from the 22-26 May to bring viewers coverage from the Referendum Council Gathering in Mutitjulu. Coverage will be aired nightly on NITV News Mon-Fri at 7.20pm and The Point at 9pm Mon-Thurs. On Friday 26 May, The Point Special will include coverage of the closing ceremony and outcomes of the Referendum Council Gathering.
The Point will be live from Townsville on Friday 2 June with a cross to Torres Strait Islands ahead of nationwide Mabo Day celebrations.

From the Western Frontier *
Monday, 22 May 7.30pm (2 Parts)
From the Western Frontier is back on NITV for a third season, featuring the work of emerging Indigenous Western Australian writers and directors. This third instalment examines the legacy of the Stolen Generations policies through the eyes of young Aboriginal women.
Throughout the week, NITV reflects on the events of the past, acknowledging those who have been affected, and commemorates the Stolen Generation.
Season Three, Episode One: The Third Space
Fair-skinned Noongar girl, Meeka Rees, struggles to fit into an Aboriginal world despite her grandmother being prominent Aboriginal artist, Sandra Hill. She goes on a personal journey with her grandmother, mother and sister to understand how an ideology, based on skin colour, underpinned the Stolen Generations policies and continues to impact on her family’s ability to identify and connect with their Aboriginality today.

Lousy Little Sixpence *
Monday, 22 May 8.00pm
This 1983 Australian documentary details the early years of the Stolen Generations and the struggle of Indigenous Australians against the Aboriginal Protection Board in the 1930s.
In Australia in 1909, in the state of New South Wales, the Aboriginal Protection Board planned to break up Aboriginal communities by forcibly removing their children and hiring them out as servants to white employers.
In the mid-1930s, the Aboriginal people began to organise, and to fight, the Aboriginal Protection Board. Through old newsreels, archive film, photographs and interviews with Elders, this documentary weaves a moving account of a hidden history, the early struggle for Aboriginal land rights and self-determination.
Throughout the week, NITV reflects on the events of the past, acknowledging those who have been affected, and commemorates the Stolen Generation.

Young & Black
Wednesday, 24 May at 8.30pm rpt
What does it mean to be young and black in 2017?
Join journalist Laura Murphy-Oates and four prominent Australians as they unpack the uncomfortable truths of being an Indigenous millennial.

Marngrook Footy Show *
7:30pm Thursday May 25
On the eve of the AFL’s Indigenous round, NITV’s Marngrook Footy Show will celebrate and recognise the contribution and achievements of Indigenous AFL players throughout the history of the game.
In this Indigenous round special Marngrook hosts Grant Hansen and Gilbert McAdam will be joined on the panel by dual premiership player and trailblazer Michael Long, gamechanger and icon Nicky Winmar, and Indigenous legends Phil Krakour, Phil Egan and exciting 1980s superstar Les Bamblett.
Round 7 AFL Rising Star nomination and exciting young Carlton recruit Sam Petrevski-Seton, Essendon fan favourite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, and North Melbourne veteran Lindsay Thomas will also join the show and share their insights ahead of these important games.
Shelley Ware will visit the Fitzroy Stars, an Indigenous footy club based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs to catch up with the Under 9s team and meet some future stars of the game.
To close out the show Aussie rock favourites Killing Heidi, who are celebrating 20 years since their formation will perform one of their much-loved hits.
Join Marngrook as it serves up a unique mix of footy news, insightful interviews, in depth match analysis, and inclusive family-friendly footy fun.

The Apology *
Friday, 26 May at 7.00pm
On February 13, 2008, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an historic and unprecedented public apology to Indigenous Australians on behalf of the Parliament.
Since its inception in 1901, through to the 1960s, successive parliaments, through their legislation and administration, participated in the forced removal of children from their mothers, creating what has commonly become known as the Stolen Generations.
Many of the Stolen Generations are alive today, many of those children are still trying to reunite with their families, and many still bear the scars of lives forever torn from their language, their traditions and their stories. All agreed that a time had come for healing: a healing and reconciliation born of an apology, acceptance and forgiveness.
The Apology captures the anticipation on a thousand faces as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivers the apology, and then the spontaneous outpouring of emotion all around the country.

Vote Yes for Aborigines
Saturday, 27 May at 6.30pm
To recognise and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, NITV presents Vote Yes for Aborigines, documenting the political milestone that overturned Australian constitutional law to allow Aboriginal people to be counted as Australian citizens in their own country.
Covering over 100 years leading up to the referendum, director and Indigenous Yorta Yorta woman Frances Peters-Little revisits those involved with the 1967 Referendum and the social attitudes and influences that led to the event.
More than just marking a time in history, Vote Yes for Aborigines interrogates the success of the Referendum and addresses current debates about what is meant by Australian citizenship and values and how they relate, if at all, to Aboriginal history, identity and culture.

Beyond Sorry *
Saturday, 27 May at 7.30pm
As a young girl, Aggie Abbott hid and watched as her cousin Zita Wallace was stolen from their traditional Aboriginal community while Aggie herself was not. They were both ‘half- caste’ kids.
Aggie and Zita were separated for over 50 years. Zita Wallace, now 64, has decided to reconstruct her identity, her life and her history. With Aggie as her guide, Zita is learning everything she needs to know about being a traditional Aboriginal woman.
David Vadiveloo’s moving documentary reveals the complex pressures that come to bear when an urban Aboriginal woman tries to return to the family she was taken from as a child. It is an intimate story of cultural conflict, remarkable courage and generosity, of the ties that bind, and of two women from the same land trying hard to reconcile two very different worlds.

Mabo: Life of an Island Man *
Mabo Day Sunday, 28 May 8.30pm
A man ahead of his time, Eddie Koiki Mabo left an indelible legacy to the people of Australia, reshaping the landscape and opening up possibilities that many never dreamed of.
Mabo: Life of An Island Man is the AFI Award-winning film about the gently spoken public and private man and his inspirational triumph of justice in one of the most important developments in Australian history.
Born on Murray Island in the Torres Strait, Eddie Mabo tragically lived most of his life in exile. It was not until June 3, 1992, six months after his death, that the entire island community welcomed him home, after the High Court of Australia upheld his claim that Murray Islanders held ‘native title’ to three islands within the region – successfully challenging the notion of terra nullius, which asserted that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders did not have a system of legal ownership predating white settlement.
Both controversial and captivating, filmmaker Trevor Graham delves deep into the life of a devoted and passionate family man, investigating the dynamic person who would challenge the Australian socio-political climate and fight for change every step of the way, forever ensuring his place on Murray Island and in Australian history.

Carry the Flag *
Monday, 29 May 8.30pm
2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Torres Strait Flag. For Bernard Namok Junior, ‘Bala B’, the flag is a poignant reminder of home, family and the father he hardly knew. Bernard Namok Senior won the flag design competition in 1992. A year later, at just 31-years-old, he died, leaving behind his wife and four young children.
Bala B journeys across the Torres Strait to honour his father’s legacy. Carry the Flag is a rich and powerful story of a man whose design created meaning for a people once invisible to mainland Australia, the people of the Torres Strait.

After Mabo
Sunday 4 June, 8.30pm
After Mabo was filmed during 1996 and 1997 and provides the most relevant ‘snapshot’ from that period of the land justice issue as it unravelled over an eighteen month period. The film dispels many of the myths about native title and exposes the real political and economic agenda behind John Howard’s ‘Ten Point Plan’. After Mabo takes viewers behind the doors as Indigenous representatives attempt to fight the amendments in the media, in the bush and in the halls of Parliament House, Canberra.
Included in the film is respected Indigenous figures including Noel Pearson, Peter Yu, Pat Dodson and filmmaker Richard Frankland, speaking first-hand about land justice and the threat that the proposed Howard Amendments had to their land and their rights.


Counted *
7:30pm Friday, 26 May
50 years ago, Australians voted in numbers never seen before or since to fully embrace Indigenous people as part of our country. Stan Grant remembers this momentous time in a half hour special Counted at 7.30pm on ABC and ABC iview on Friday, 26 May.
When Australia became a nation, Aboriginal people were thought to be a doomed race. The founding fathers believed there was no place for the country’s first people in this new Australia.
Section 127 of the new constitution prohibited Aboriginal people from being counted among the population of the Commonwealth. But Aboriginal people did not die out, their voices did not fall silent, and in 1967 they were finally heard when Australians voted ‘yes’. It remains the most resounding referendum victory in our nation’s history – Aboriginal people counted.
On the eve of the anniversary of the referendum, Stan takes us back to when Australians defied a dark past and voted to right the wrong. He speaks to the heroes of the referendum and their grandchildren who inherited the ongoing fight for justice for the first Australians. He also takes us on his own very personal journey – examining what it was like for his family in country NSW before the referendum.

* denotes Premiere.


  1. I can’t help feeling disappointed about this lineup. Once again most shows are overtly political, or else about artists.

    I am involved with a group called Blackfit Fitness and coach young Indigenous guys in the gym about bodybuilding and healthy lifestyles. I was concerned at the amount of smoking and drinking in Indigenous communities and contacted the local Land Council about getting some of the young fellas into the gym. It has been a success and two of the guys competed in the INBA Natural Bodybuilding Titles held here last year.

    I’d like to see some more positive stories about Indigenous communities rather than just a relaying of historical events.

    • It appears Young & Black will cover similar territory, and NITV does have a whole year to tackle these kinds of things. Not sure we can begrudge them for marking important anniversaries.

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