Reconciliation needs brave actions to make change
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 Brave. Make Change.” This is a challenge to individuals, families, communities, organisations and government to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians. It is a call to action for all of us to have the difficult conversations, be brave, actively listen and take real action toward a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.
I feel a personal responsibility to contribute to Reconciliation, but also a strong responsibility as CEO of Mission Australia to continue to strive towards Reconciliation as a core component of serving Australians in need.
I am proud to be leading an organisation that is already committed to making a difference. In February 2022, in my early weeks at Mission Australia our third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was launched as our roadmap for Reconciliation until December 2023. I was pleased to see our commitments outlined and look forward to living up to their ambitions. I was even more pleased to see the spirit of Reconciliation so widely embraced by our staff. There is a palpable hunger to be brave and make change that will help us reach our goals.
Everyone here at Mission Australia takes their responsibility seriously in implementing this plan alongside our dedicated RAP Coordinator, and supported by our incredible RAP Reference Group, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledge Group and a growing network of local RAP Champions across Mission Australia.
To achieve substantial and sustainable change towards Reconciliation, we know that solutions must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Which is why Mission Australia supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
The Uluru Statement is vital as it represents a historic consensus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in seeking constitutional change to recognise First Australians through a Voice to Parliament. A Voice to Parliament enshrined in and protected by the Constitution is a truly important way of ensuring Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. Mission Australia wholeheartedly supports the recommendations that Indigenous leadership have co-designed and called for.
A Voice to Parliament will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say on the laws and policies that impact them. The Uluru Statement is a historic opportunity to reimagine our nation. It is our chance to come together to support real change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can take their rightful place in Australia.
The Uluru Statement is an invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. It is an invitation we cannot afford to ignore and a gift of peace we should gratefully accept.
Having a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament is unfinished business that needs to be settled. In our advocacy we continue to call for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to be at the centre of policies that affect them. A Voice to Parliament embeds this into Australia’s future.
The 26th of May is the five year anniversary of the Uluru Statement and we know that calls for self-determination have been made across generations. The time for change is now.
This National Reconciliation Week we should be brave and re-imagine a better future for Australia. A reconciled Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this country are restored to a place of equity, dignity and respect; our national soul healed and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are fully valued.
Mission Australia continues to advocate and stand alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Together, we stand.
Let’s continue to raise our voices, speak the truth, advocate, understand the facts and our history, and make a concerted effort to make sure we are aware of and understand issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
I encourage everyone to learn more about the Uluru Statement from the Heart this National Reconciliation Week. It is an opportunity for us all to be brave, make change and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation.
Together we stand, and strive every day to take braver, more impactful actions toward 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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