National Reconciliation Week Event 2023:

Connection to Self, Country and Community

Banner image: Welcome to Country with Richie Allan, a Ngunnawal/Kamilaroi man

Last Sunday, in recognition of National Reconciliation Week, we held a sold-out event at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands to enable the Canberra community to come together to enjoy a cultural tour and bush tucker lunch, and the opportunity to reflect on what reconciliation really means.

Richie Allan, a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi man who is the cultural Director of Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, welcomed us to country before leading a walk around the wetlands to show us all the different plants and animals in ‘nature’s supermarket’ which are used for food, medicine, and indicators of seasonal change. He also taught us about the importance of totems and the deep connection between people and land.

Welcome to Country with Richie. Photo credit: Lori Gould
Cultural Tour around Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Photo credit: Lori Gould
Soap making from plants, with Richie. Photo credit: Lucy Stuart
Everyone using Bush soap. Photo credit: Lucy Stuart

Following the walk, Tanya Keed, a Dunghatti women who has called Canberra home for more than 20 years and who runs Clybucca Dreaming which advocates for social and criminal justice, led us through a yarning circle where open conversation was encouraged with no questions out of bounds. This enabled people to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of reconciliation and walking forward together, our nations true history and the practical actions that each of us can take to improve the plight of many of our first nations people.

Yarning Circle with Tanya Keed. Photo credit: Lucy Stuart

We all then came together for a bush tucker lunch which featured Kangaroo, Crocodile, and Barramundi prepared with a range of Australian native herbs and spices, damper and potatoes – all cooked in the fire, accompanied with salads, fruit and finger limes.

Tanya cooking a bush tucker lunch for the group. Photo credit: Lucy Stuart
Lunch prep and tea time. Photo credit: Lucy Stuart
Lunch is served! Photo credit: Lori Gould
Everyone enjoying a bush tucker lunch. Photo credit: Lori Gould

Feedback from participants was extremely positive; in particular the blend of the cultural tour and having the opportunity to learn more about country in a practical sense, and also to be given the opportunity to participate in open conversation in a safe and respectful way to better understand how we can participate in reconciliation at a personal level.

Special thanks to Richie and Tanya for your knowledge, guidance, wisdom and awesome chef skills, and to Miriam Fokker from the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Jeannine Fromholtz from the Molonglo Conservation Group, who were instrumental in assisting with all aspects of the event and for your ongoing support more broadly.

We would also like to thank the ACT Government Community Services Directorate – Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, who provided funding through a Reconciliation Day grant to assist us with delivery of this event.

Stories of resilience, healing and reconciliation

The Australian River Restoration Centre is not an Indigenous organisation — however, we work towards centring Indigenous voices in everything we do, not just during National Reconciliation Week but all weeks.

Richie and Tanya have kindly shared with us stories of resilience, healing and reconciliation which we have brought together below for you to listen to.

River Dreaming and Reconciliation. Guest Speaker: Richie Allan

In this episode, Siwan chats with Richie Allan about reconciliation and the importance of listening to Indigenous perspectives, particularly when it comes to our rivers. Richie comes from the Kamilaroi and Ngunnawal nations and is co-Director of the Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. Richie has been working with the ARRC over the last year to help us develop a Reconciliation Action Plan. Today we are talking to Richie about what reconciliation means to him and how we might, through our individual and organisational actions, continue along the path of recognising, respecting and reconciling our past with the future and how our individual actions can contribute to reconciling Australia.


Healing and Connection to Country with Yarning Circles. Guest Speaker: Tanya Keed and Lori Gould

As we have more conversations with Aboriginal people, we find that when we acknowledge Country it means so much more. There is an upswelling of emotion as the stories that are generously shared with us gives us insight into what it might be like being an Aboriginal Australian. This podcast is one such conversation. Tanya Keed, a proud Aboriginal woman from Dunghutti Country, and Lori Gould who has worked with the ARRC for over twenty years, share how they have been working together to connect men and women who have been imprisoned, back to themselves, each other and to Country. This is a podcast like no other, and we feel deeply grateful and honoured that Tanya is sharing so much of herself and her story.


We also recently interviewed Aaron Chatfield of Dreamtime Connections, a Gamilaroi man, who worked with our Rivers of Carbon Yass team to engage landholders in a Cultural walk alongside the Yass River to understand more about the restoration of waterways in their region and learn more about traditional uses of native plants. Aaron shares with us what the 2023 theme for National Reconciliation Week ‘Be the Voice for Generations’ means to him…