Reconciliation Australia organises National Reconciliation Week, which begins today, and there is a direct link between the not-for-profit organisation and the 1973 edition of the race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Shelley Reys was the inaugural Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, who was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2012 Honours for her distinguished service to the Indigenous community, to reconciliation and social inclusion and as an advocate for improved educational, health and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Shelley Reys is a daughter of the late Frank Reys, who rode Gala Supreme to win the 1973 Melbourne Cup by half a length from 5-2 favourite Glengowan. Frank Reys was a son of a Filipino father and Aboriginal mother, with his mum a descendant of the Djiribul people. There have been 160 Melbourne Cups and Frank Reys, who died in 1984 at the age of 53 years, is the only independently verified Indigenous jockey to win Australia’s most famous thoroughbred racing event.

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about their shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how they can contribute to achieving reconciliation. The dates for National Reconciliation Week remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision, respectively.

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