The 2022 theme for National Reconciliation Week is, “‘Be Brave, Make Change”. Last year, Reconciliation Australia encouraged all Australians to take action, not just in National Reconciliation Week but every week of the year. This year, Reconciliation Australia is asking everyone to make change beginning with brave actions in their daily lives — where we live, work, play and socialise. At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians. For Aboriginal people like myself, Australia’s colonial history has been characterised by devastating land dispossession, violence, and racism. Over the last half-century, however, many significant steps towards reconciliation have been taken. Reconciliation is an ongoing journey that reminds us that, while generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort. This year’s theme gives me an opportunity to pause and remember the bravery my family members have showed and the change they helped to create through their bravery and concern for others. The year was 1954. Thirteen years before the 1967 referendum that recognised Aboriginal people as among Australia’s citizens. Ten years before the Aborigines Act 1905 (WA) was repealed. Thirty-eight years before the High Court of Australia delivered the Mabo decision, leading to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of these lands we now share. My family were living in the Great Southern region as they had done since before time immemorial, since the Cold Time, since the beginning. The colonisation of our country and the Aborigines Act 1905 meant that many of my family were forced at that time to live on a reserve out of Mt Barker under a 6pm-6am curfew to the threat of jail. One cold June morning in 1954, a young non-Aboriginal boy named Graeme had wandered from his parents’ farmhouse out from Mt Barker and gotten lost. By lunch time that day, his parents raised the alarm that he had gone missing. Word had spread and nearly 300 searchers were combing the district looking for the boy. Fear for the young boy’s wellbeing grew as the weather turned and a cold front approached. A police officer grew increasingly concerned as the hundreds of searchers he was co-ordinating failed to find any sign of the boy. In his desperation, the police officer drove to the “Native Reserve” several times where my great-grandfather lived and asked for help with the search. Seventy-year-old Sammy Miller, my great-grandfather, was joined by my dad, Eric Krakouer, and my uncles. There were four of them in the search who answered the call. Unfortunately I am unable to say my uncles’ names without the appropriate family consent. They got into an old utility truck (my dad’s) and took my great-grandfather looking for the young boy’s trail. The West Australian newspaper recounted that: “By 4.15am yesterday nearly the entire male population of the Town, rain-sodden, footsore and weary, had decided to suspend the search, have two hours’ sleep and return at day light. It was then that the town’s old air-raid siren blasted three times and told the district that the boy had been found”. My great-grandfather and the three other wise Noongar men had managed to do what no others could: find the boy lying exhausted in dense scrub near Mt Barrow. My great-grandfather had found the boy’s tracks and through his cultural wisdom followed the clues to his exact location. The non-Aboriginal community insisted that my great- grandfather and the Noongar men went with the boy to the Mt Barker hospital where the boy was reunited with his family and nurtured back to good health. Naked except for his boots and his dog, the boy would not have lasted much longer in the cold conditions had they not found him when they did. The newspaper would go on to describe “the uncanny bushcraft” of my great-grandfather in finding the boy where hundreds of others could not and declared in the headline, “Native Was Hero Of Bush Search”. And heroes these men were. Despite the fact the Government had made it unlawful for our people to practice their culture, to speak our language, or to enjoy the basic freedoms of being human, great-grandfather was able to use his Noongar cultural knowledge to brave the cold, find the young boy, and bring him safely back to his family with his wised search party. He then returned to the reserve where a lot of our people would be forced to remain for another decade until the Aborigines Act 1905 (WA) was repealed. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation. Thank you for taking the time to read about a part of my family’s history. About their act of bravery and about how this bravery was recognised on the front page of the newspaper, but not in our nation’s law until many years later. Remember always that reconciliation must live in our hearts, minds and actions as we move forward, if we are to create a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community. Remember that you too can be brave and can take action, not just in National Reconciliation Week, but every week of the year. Jeanice Krakouer is a Noongar woman from Mt Barker. Ms Krakouer was recently elected as one of four inaugural directors of the Wagyl Kaip Aboriginal Corporation set to represent the Great Southern under the historic South West Native Title Settlement. She previously served as chair of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.