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Commemoration as Witnessing: 20 years of remembering the stolen generations at Colebrook Reconciliation Park

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alison Atkinson-PhillipsORCiD


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The Colebrook Reconciliation Park is Australia’s oldest and most extensive memorial to acknowledge the forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families and communities, known as the “Stolen Generations.” It covers the site of the former Colebrook Home, an institution for Aboriginal children from 1942–1972. In this paper, I argue that the Colebrook Reconciliation Park can be understood as an act of witness citizenship in which the experience of the Stolen Generations is presented as an ongoing challenge to the wider Australian public. Beginning with a small plaque installed in June 1997, the Park is now a multi-layered memory space that includes figurative sculptures, poetry, a walking path and a storytelling circle, as well as more practical features including a barbecue and toilet block. Closely linked to the history of the Park’s development is the history of the Blackwood Reconciliation Group and its connection to the Colebrook Tji Tji Tjuta, a survivors’ collective. This paper discusses the Colebrook Reconciliation Park as an expression of that evolving relationship. Taking the reader on a tour through the site, this paper explores how different parts of the site bear witness in different ways by emphasising distinct, sometimes contradictory, parts of the Colebrook story.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Atkinson-Phillips A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: De Arte

Year: 2018

Volume: 53

Issue: 2-3

Pages: 103-121

Online publication date: 07/12/2018

Acceptance date: 01/02/2018

ISSN (print): 0004-3389

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/00043389.2018.1481915


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