Music hits right notes in reconciliation journey

Griffith University will host a Walk and Talk event through local bushland to mark National Reconciliation Week 2017.
Griffith University will host an inter-campus Walk and Talk event through local bush to mark National Reconciliation Week 2017.

The powerful role of music in the process of reconciliation has been highlighted by a Griffith University researcher.

Associate Professor Brydie-Leigh Bartleet made her comments as Griffith marksNational Reconciliation Week 2017 with the annual Walk and Talk events on Tuesday (May 30) and Thursday (June 1).

This year’s events have added significance nationwide as 2017 marks 25 years since the historic Mabo decision and the 50th anniversary of 1967 referendum where Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the launch of Griffith’s Statement on Reconciliation–a public declaration of the university’s commitment to promoting an environment valuing the traditions, protocols and contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Through music and through songs we’re able to acknowledge both past and present injustices,” Associate Professor Bartleet said. “I think that acknowledgement is a really important step in the reconciliation journey.”

Associate Professor Bartleet is Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre and was previously named Australian Teacher of the Year in 2014. She is renowned worldwide for her work in community music and community engagement.

She has led innovative community music learning programs where Griffith University students work alongside Indigenous musicians.

“In this way we make space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians to come together in the shared act of music-making,” she said.

“Music is very powerful in being able to acknowledge the past but also look towards the future. Music provides a strength-based approach where people can come together, build relationships, and share cultures, passions and interests.

“It provides a vehicle to tell stories about past and present injustices. Through song, for example, we can hear about what past colonisation has done and continues to do and I think that acknowledgement is one of the most important first steps in reconciliation.

Griffith University is aligned with Reconciliation Australia’s key themes of relationships, respect and opportunity.

This week’s first Walk and Talk event, bringing together students and staff in the spirit of reconciliation, starts at the Mt Gravatt campus at 10am on Tuesday and will take participants on a bush walk to the Nathan campus.

The second walk, on Thursday, will start from the International Building on the Gold Coast campus at 10am.