• Senator Patrick Dodson, Archie Roach and Reconciliation Australia's Karen Mundine. (Reconciliation Australia)
The ACT is the first state or territory to recognise Reconciliation Day with a public holiday.
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28 May 2018 - 2:04 PM  UPDATED 28 May 2018 - 2:12 PM

On the eve of the historic public holiday in the nation's capital, the soothing sounds of Uncle Archie Roach filled a packed theatre in the heart of Canberra. 

More than 1,000 people came to see the legendary singer perform songs from his latest album Dancing with My Spirit with newly-reformed band Tiddas. 

For Uncle Archie, reconciliation is about much more than symbolic gestures. 

"[It's] working towards true reconciliation, not this gammon things of having a nice dinner, invite some Aboriginal people and think that that's reconciliation, it's not - you gotta work at it," he told NITV News

"True reconciliation is about all of us owning the history of this country, and all the history. They can't just pick the good stuff.

"If we're gonna look at it as a nation we gotta take the bad along with the good and acknowledging that and accepting that."

This year Reconciliation Week is themed 'Don't Keep History a Mystery'. 

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine, told NITV News truth-telling has always been an essential part of reconciliation. 

"In our reconciliation barometer, we found that one-in-three Australians didn't know or didn't believe certain aspects of our history happened," she said.

"Things like the Stolen Generations, things like the removal of people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their lands and the fact that that was still happening in some instances right up until the 1970s.

"So it was a really perfect way for us to start thinking about what are the other things that are a mystery about our history because this is not just about our mob and our history - it's about Australia's history - so it was really important to start that conversation," she said. 

Ms Mundine also hopes the public holiday is replicated across the country. 

"I'd like to think the ACT is leading the way," she said.

"I'd like to think other states and territories would consider this a really great way to opening up conversations, marking where are we in this journey of reconciliation and I guess more importantly thinking critically about what else we need to do to progress it." 

The first Indigenous Australian elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly, Chris Burke, started the campaign for the public holiday to acknowledge the culture, contribution and resilience of First Nations peoples. 

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr thanked Mr Burke for his leadership. 

"We would not be here tonight without your advocacy, thank you and I'm looking forward to continuing to working with you on this very important reconciliation journey," he said. 

Ms Mundine says the reconciliation journey still has a long way to go. 

"Knowing each other better and knowing the history that we share is a great starting point for a better relationship going forward. If we understand what happened with the Stolen Generations, if we believe it in the first instance, and then we think about how do we make sure that this doesn't happen again."

Rapper Briggs along with Bad Apples crew, including Birdz, Omar Musa, Nooky, Alice Skye and Kobie Dee, hosted a house party following the concert. 

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