Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June, 2023

Reconciliation Week is a time for everyone to learn about our shared stories, histories, cultures and achievements. For 2023, the theme is “Be a Voice for Generations” which urges us all to keep up the momentum for change. 

The theme and Reconciliation Australia “encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise.”  

A History of Reconciliation Week:  

  • Runs from the 27th May to the 3rd of June. Two very important dates of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The 27th of May marks the anniversary of the 1967 referendum, when Australians voted to remove the clause in the Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The 3rd of June marks the 1992 Mabo decision that say the High Court of Australia recognising native title.  
  • The day before, the 26th of May is National Sorry Day, commemorating those who are apart of the Stolen Generations at the hands of the Australian Government.  

What is Reconciliation?  

  • At its core, reconciliation is an action to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia. It is an action to acknowledge the trauma of the impact of colonisation by the Government and society. It is to acknowledge the discrimination and racism that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have experienced and continue to experience. 
  • It is an on-going journey for all people in current Australia, and is a reminder to remember those who have fought hard for equal rights and continue to fight for Country and Culture.  
  • Reconciliation Week asks allies in their organisations, schools, university, community groups and workplaces to work on their own actions towards reconciliation and to amplify the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  

How to get involved:  

  1. For the community and our Allies, this is a great resource on practical and impactful actions that you can do to “be a voice for reconciliation”: 
  1. See what events are running around your workplaces and communities and attend.  
  1. Read and share the stories and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Here are some that speak to the theme from our Library catalogue:  

Songlines: The Power and Promise (First Knowledges Series)  

Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly  

Apart of an amazing series of First Nations knowledges, Songlines is an insight into the power and significance of songlines. They are complex systems of knowledges that hold stories, songs, dance, ceremonies and art. It weaves close personal and cultural storytelling from Lynne Kelle. A beautiful read on how to engage with First Nations knowledges and adapting them into our lives.  

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Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Aboriginal Women and Feminism  

Aileen Moreton-Robinson  

This book is for everyone! Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson critiques, the whiteness of Australian Feminism and how this has ignored and rejected Indigenous women. She interrogates western feminism and its rootedness in power, privilege and colonization.  

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The following books are written by Non-Indigenous authors but document important histories of First Nations activism in Australia.  

Redfern : Aboriginal Activism in the 1970s 

Johanna Perheentupa  

A great read for those wanting to learn more about Redfern (a close neighbour to the University) as the epicentre for Indigenous social justice and political movements throughout history. Within this book, you will learn about how through the determination of the community, health services, legal services, child care centres, a black theatre and schooling was established. All of these institutions still have an important legacy today.  

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Fight for Liberty and Freedom: The Origins of Australian Aboriginal Activism  

John Maynard  

Within this important read, the history of Aboriginal activism is told. From as early as invasion itself and through to today there has been resistance and activism. In the early 20th Century the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA) was established. It was a significant all-Aboriginal activist group that demanded land rights, citizenship, prevention of forced removal of children and defending cultural identity. An important history that needs to be told and remembered.   

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Library statement on Honi Soit incident

Approximately one thousand copies of a queer-themed edition of Honi Soit were maliciously removed from stands across campus on Tuesday, 16 May. The edition, produced by the Queer Action Collective (QuAC), is titled Fagi Soit.

The University of Sydney Library is dismayed to learn that these acts of censorship and bigotry occurred in our spaces. We stand in solidarity with the creators of Fagi Soit, whose freedom of expression has been suppressed, and extend our sympathy to any LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and community members that have found this incident distressing. We reaffirm our commitment to supporting free and equitable access to information and to making the Library a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQIA+ people. The Library has worked in partnership with the Student Representative Council over many decades to preserve Honi Soit for perpetuity, and we hold both print and digital copies within our collection.  

To learn more about this incident and to read Fagi Soit online:

For those wishing to show their support for the queer community on campus:

  • Attend the speak-out called by QuAC at 12pm Thursday 25 May on the Law lawns on Eastern Avenue, Camperdown Campus.

For those feeling distressed and seeking support in the wake of this incident:

IDAHOBIT Day, 17 May 2023

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia has been observed on 17 May each year since 2005 to raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ rights violations including violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide. The date was originally selected to commemorate the 1990 decision by the World Health Organisation to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. 

The stated goals for IDAHOBIT include to take action, and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society. The idea behind setting a global date for IDAHOBIT celebrations is that they are globally visible while not requiring them conformation to a particular format or type of action because of the diversity of social, religious, cultural, and political contexts in which rights violations occur. Despite the nature of IDAHOBIT celebrations being very different across the world, they share common themes of pride in oneself, happiness, love and caring within the community, and countering different rampant forms of hate in the world. 

Some of the things the official, Australian IDAHOBIT Day website suggests you can do to show your support and celebrate IDAHOBIT Day at uni or at work are: 

  • Go Rainbow! Wear rainbow face paint or clothes on the day, or decorate your office with rainbow. 
  • Host an event. No matter how large or small, whether it is a fabulous party or a small, rainbow cupcake afternoon tea, your event will make a difference. 
  • Raise awareness. This can be done on IDAHOBIT Day or at any time of the year, whether by inviting a guest speaker, hosting or attending an inclusion training session, or listening to those with lived-experience. 
  • Change the world with your generosity. Think about how you can help other LGBTQIA+ young people in need through organisations such as Minus18

Rare Bites: Sydney’s Chinese Ghosts

The Rare Books Library at the University of Sydney holds a copy of the 1891 NSW Royal Commission into Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality, a rare and valuable document which invites us to view life in 19th century Sydney through Chinese eyes.

The stated aim of the commission – as Shirley Fitzgerald explains – ‘was to establish the extent of bribery and extortion within the Chinese gambling community, and between gambling syndicates and the police.’ Ostensibly a tool of the state to enact surveillance on Chinese urban life at a time of heightened anti-Chinese xenophobia in the city.

Sophie invites us to read the Commission against the grain, excavating the Chinese lives evidenced in its pages. What can the Commission tell us about Sydney’s Chinese ghosts?

Speaker: Sophie Loy-Wilson is a lecturer in Australian history at the University of Sydney. She is the recipient of an ARC DECRA Grant for her project Chinese Business: social and economic survival in white Australia, 1870-1940.

BioQuest photo competition

BioQuest photograph. Image supplied by Madeleine Culp

Each April and August, our University community comes together to watch nature with a purpose.

Questagame runs a series of “bioquests” where people of all ages and experience levels can photograph animals and plants they encounter. It’s an international competition, where Team USYD is pitted against other Universities on a mission to capture and identify as many wild images of flora, fauna or fungi as possible. Data submitted by participants is then fed in to resources to enhance biodiversity knowledge and research world wide.

We are fortunate to have a committed group of staff and students who participate with impressive results. BioQuest in 2022 saw our University teams scoring high in semester 2 taking 3rd place in the Champion Spotters, 2nd and 3rd in the Champion Identifiers, 1st in the Most valuable player, 1st place in the Champion Spotter, and 2nd and 3rd in the Champion Identifier awards.  

The University released it’s first Sustainability Strategy in 2020 which committed to improving the ecosystems that support flora, fauna, and wildlife species on our campuses. Biologically diverse natural environments matters – it can create a healthy and resilient environment and benefit species (including us humans) well-being . We established a Biodiversity Management Plan to set our biodiversity targets, aiming at managing our environment and encouraging staff and students to think about how our actions impact the land and life around us.

 In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted the accelerating rates of species loss. In Australia, 1/3 of our threatened species live in our cities. One of our principles is to ensure no net loss and do more biodiversity enhancement. We are also aware that causing attitudinal and behavioural change is the key, so we share stories and information about biodiversity with our students, fund projects which promote biodiversity, allowing students and staff to use flora and fauna for research and education.   

To celebrate another amazing round of BioQuest and biodiversity, the Sustainability Strategy, Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell and the Libraries have teamed up to host a BioQuest photographic Competition.

We’re inviting all students and staff to submit their best three pictures of flora, fauna, or fungi for exhibition in the ThinkSpace, Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus during Week 12 and 13. Prizes are on offer including Judge’s Award and People’s Choice.

Complete the registration form with information on your photos then email your pictures before Thursday 11 May at 5pm.

Lesbian Visibility Day, 26 April 2023

Lesbian Visibility Day is a day to recognise and celebrate the contributions of lesbian women around the world. The day was created in 2008 to raise awareness of the issues faced by lesbians, and to encourage them to live authentically.

To celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2023, the Library’s LGBTQIA+ Ally group has compiled a reading list of items within the collection that highlight and celebrate lesbian stories and experiences from around the world.

(Image: Honi Soit, 1977, vol. 50 issue 25)

In the Dream House

Author: C.M Machado

In this genre-bending memoir, author Carmen Maria Machado explores her experience of abuse in a same-sex relationship, drawing on a series of narrative tropes from horror, fantasy, erotica, literary theory, and beyond. She tackles an extremely challenging topic with nuance, wit, vulnerability, and imagination, leaving the reader as haunted as the eponymous “dream house”.

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The Argonauts

Author: M.Nelson

“The Argonauts” is many things – a series of theoretical essays, a queer and feminist manifesto, and, perhaps most importantly, a love story. Maggie Nelson details her romance with gender-fluid partner Harry Dodge and their journey into pregnancy and child-rearing with an irrepressible tenderness and joy. This book is a celebration of queer families, of small joys, of caretaking, of lovemaking, and of radical individual freedom.

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The Amazons: Lives and legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World

Author: A. Mayor

History has, indeed, been male-washed, but this is a refreshingly feminist read of the archaeological and historical record. And as an added bonus, the purported lesbianism of the Amazons is addressed – particularly as a disruptive symbol in direct opposition to ideals of Athenian masculinity.

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After Sappho

Author: S.W Schwartz

Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.

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Author: E. Baltasar

The grim and lovely follow-up to Eva Baltasar’s acclaimed Permafrost explores the darker sides of love and motherhood for two women determined to live as they like.

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Mouths of Rain: An anthology of black lesbian thought.

Author: B. Jones

A ground-breaking collection tracing the history of intellectual thought by Black Lesbian writers, in the tradition of The New Press’s perennial seller “Words of Fire”. African American lesbian writers and theorists have made extraordinary contributions to feminist theory, activism, and writing. Mouths of Rain, the companion anthology to Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s classic “Words of Fire”, traces the long history of intellectual thought produced by Black Lesbian writers, spanning the nineteenth century through the twenty-first century.

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The last night at the Telegraph Club

Author: M. Lo

Winner of numerous awards, this beloved poignant lesbian novel is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1954, during the Red Scare, when openly exploring queerness isn’t an option.

Protagonist Lily secretly gathers photos of women with masculine qualities, is drawn toward ‘unfeminine; clothing and interests, and slowly recognises her lesbianism with her budding connection to Kathleen Miller, a white classmate.

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The big lie

Author: J. Mayhew

In an alternate-world modern England under Nazi rule, sheltered teen Jessika Keller questions what it means to be good when she develops an attraction for her best friend, Clementine, an outspoken, radical girl who has drawn the attention of the Nazi regime.

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Lesbian art: an encounter with power

Author: E. Ashburn

This benchmark publication documents the diversity and vitality of lesbian talent in Australia. A hitherto marginalised group, lesbian artists are now being incorporated into mainstream culture and this book provides a timely introduction to the issues explored by these artists, which include sexuality, mythology and religion, mass media and technology.

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Immortal invisible: Lesbians and the moving image

Author: T. Wilton

The first book that bought together “leading film-makers, academics and activists to discuss films by, for and about lesbians and queer women” It was written in the mid-nineties, so shows its age, and was written in peak Kill your Gays/No Happy Endings for Lesbians era, as well as being of the time where you took subtext and ran with it.

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Oranges are not the only fruit

Author: J. Winterson

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by working-class evangelists in the North of England to be one of God’s elect. Passionate, headstrong and shielded by her mother’s grand disapproval of a sinful world, she seems destined for life as a missionary. And then she meets Melanie. At sixteen, Jeanette faces a world of uncertainty as she breaks from the church and her community for the young woman she loves. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a warm, witty and daring novel that gives voice to irrepressible desire.

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