Reconciliation 2023 – Let’s be a voice for generations
I am writing this from the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation who I acknowledge and thank as the traditional owners of this land.
This year’s National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) theme is “Be a Voice for Generations”. I am excited by this focus which calls on all of us to be a voice for Reconciliation in tangible ways and to take actions every day towards a more just, equitable and reconciled country for everyone.
As we continue on our Reconciliation journey at Mission Australia, my commitment to hearing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who I work with and who we serve is strengthened each day, as is my drive to add my own voice to the chorus calling for positive and necessary change.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are an integral part of our work in many ways –they’re our colleagues, advisers, partners in communities and people we serve. And Mission Australia was among the first not-for-profit organisations in Australia to develop and implement a Reconciliation Action Plan back in 2009.
As part of our current Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, I have been proud to lead Mission Australia as we work towards our first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety framework. This journey has embodied true co-design and collaboration, where knowledge has been generously shared by Mission Australia staff, particularly our knowledge group which is made up entirely of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.
We will continue to strengthen our cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by engaging in a process of continuous learning and practice improvement. And I am grateful we have our knowledge group to expertly guide us as we develop strategies, policies, practices and workplace cultures that support self-determination and address unconscious bias, discrimination and racism.
At a national level, I’m greatly inspired by the generous leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in calling for a Voice to Parliament – a national Voice for Generations.
While we acknowledge differences of opinion including amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and their communities, Mission Australia supports enshrining a Voice to Parliament in the constitution at the upcoming Referendum.
Mission Australia believes that a Voice to Parliament enshrined in and protected by the Constitution is a vital first step to ensuring Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. We also acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded and that holistic conversations and action around treaty and truth need to complement proposed changes regarding a Voice to Parliament.
The Voice to Parliament will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say on the laws and policies that impact them. It will be a permanent institution that will provide advice to the Parliament and Government on important issues.
The upcoming Referendum is an historic opportunity to reimagine our nation. It is our chance to come together to deliver real change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can have a say and lead the work that effects them, for generations to come.
I encourage everyone to take time this National Reconciliation Week to consider how you will use your voice to influence positive change at a local and national level. And to remember that Reconciliation is not just for one week each year. It’s about taking actions towards a better, more Reconciled Australia every day.
Together we stand, and strive every day to take braver, more impactful actions towards Reconciliation.
CEO Mission Australia
Australia celebrates National Reconciliation Week from 27 May to 3 June every year. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the Reconciliation journey – the 1967 Referendum acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the High Court Mabo decision, respectively. National Reconciliation Week is preceded by National Sorry Day on 26th May. Visit the website for more information.
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