This week, we learn what everyone can do to make change and move towards Reconciliation.

Reconciliation is everyone’s business

How you can contribute to change right now, and why it’s important that you do.

Ryan Stubna

Creative

Learning Organisation

6 minute read

This Friday, May 27 marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week 2022. The theme this year is ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’ It’s the ideal time to acknowledge that, as businesses, employees and citizens, we need to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and challenges so that we can contribute to achieving reconciliation.
In short
  • In the spirit of the theme for Reconciliation Week, we are committed to being brave and making change. 
  • The responsibility for reconciliation lies with everyone, not just this week but beyond.
  • From telling the truth on racism to creating Reconciliation Action Plans at work, here are 10 ways you can create meaningful change.
In the spirit of bravery, I have to confess
I am an Aboriginal man whose family suffered due to government policies during a period now recognised as the Stolen Generations1. But, until recently, I had taken no action to help make change at all.

Despite knowing about my family’s history since my teenage years, I have quietly gone about my life without fully understanding the trauma and loss that was experienced. I have also never been to a protest march or become involved in groups taking steps to close the gap and reduce disadvantages among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
But it’s never too late to start taking action
I have made a personal pledge. But for real change to take place, every single person is going to need to start contributing. It is only together that we will be able to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation.
Practical ways to contribute to change

National Reconciliation Week 2022 have shared a number ways for all of us to get involved. Here are just a few.

1. Tell the truth on racism

There has been a lot of conversation around racism, especially in the past two years. Thankfully, people are becoming more comfortable to call out racism when they witness it. However, there are still a few morons out there. It Stops with Me is a great resource to help show you ways to deal with racism when you encounter it.

2. Acknowledge Country

Acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we live and work on is an important mark of respect and shows awareness of First Nations people being the custodians of the land. It’s respectful to acknowledge this in meetings, at events, on emails and prominently in your office space. It’s always good to personalise your Acknowledgment of Country, but you can find the basics here.

3. Get your facts first-hand

Make a point of watching and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island media. First Nations Media is a good place to start. You’ll find sources of truth to help you get a fuller understanding of the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and information on what you can do to combat these.


4. Fight for justice

This is potentially one of the most confronting facts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the most incarcerated people in the world, proportionately. The flow-on effect of this destroying families is just as shocking. It is something that has to change. There are a number of ways to take action, including via Change the Record, Raise the Age and Family Matters


5. Get reconciliation into schools

There was barely an utterance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in schools when I was growing up and even now, acknowledgment is inadequate. If you’ve got kids at school, see how you can get them to embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history through Narragunnawali and Learn our Truth


6. Learn your local history

Read, listen and research to find out more about your local history. There are likely to be incredibly difficult things to hear involving massacres, forced removals, cultural genocide. It’s important that people know and hear these stories to begin to understand our shared history and why there is a lot of work to do to achieve reconciliation.


7. Be a brave ally

First Nations peoples make up just 3% of the population, so it is incredibly important not just to be an ally, but a good ally, as an intention is not enough. Don’t speak on behalf of First Nations people. Get into the community and find the people who can tell their own stories and speak on behalf of themselves. Do more than participating in a NAIDOC morning tea or sharing Aboriginal dreaming stories. Confront and support the tougher issues too. For example, Change the Record which sets out to end the incarceration of, and family violence against, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


8. Support Blak Business

For so many years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, culture and businesses have been exploited. It’s vital that you purchase Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art and products and services only from Indigenous owned businesses. Supply Nation is Australia’s leading database of verified Indigenous-owned. Their aim is to create a culture where ideas flourish and people work together to transform the Indigenous business sector – making a true difference.


9. Prioritise cultural safety

15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to feel they cannot be true to their cultures at work1. You can take action here by proactively undertaking cultural awareness training. This will help you learn about (and understand) cultural safety and inclusive practices in your life and work. You can find a facilitator through Supply Nation.


10. Reconciliation at work

By starting a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), businesses can take action to advance reconciliation and make their workplace a better place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are four types of RAPs: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Each stage helps organisations continuously develop their reconciliation commitments. If your business doesn’t have a RAP, lead the way in getting a group together to start the process. If your business does, then see how you can get involved in ensuring your business achieves the actions it has committed to.

“It is only together that we will be able to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation.”

Be Brave. Make Change.
National Reconciliation Week is a fantastic place to start. But working toward reconciliation is up to all of us to work towards every day.

For things to really change, and for us to ultimately achieve reconciliation, uncomfortable, brave conversations need to take place, and action needs to be taken. But it is possible, and by taking steps forward, we begin our journey towards a more reconciled nation.

I am now incredibly proud to be making change. With the rest of our business, we are Acknowledging Country in our daily life, supporting Blak Business, attending Cultural Capability sessions, learning our local history, and getting set to implement our first Reconciliation Action Plan. And that’s just the beginning of our contribution towards achieving reconciliation.

on formalised commitment
Today, there are over 1,100 organisations who have formalised their commitment to reconciliation with a RAP tailored to their own work, people and needs. The program is leading to tangible, positive outcomes that contribute to genuine reconciliation. Check out Westpac’s RAP for an excellent example of what your business can work towards.

Written by Ryan Stubna, edited by Claire Austin, 52 Words by Adelaide Anderson, key visual by Leticia Anne Designs, page built by Kate Pendergast & Laura Murphy
References
  1. Australians Together, The Stolen Generations (2022).
  2. Reconciliation Australia, State of Reconciliation in Australia Report (2021).

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