The goal of the reconciliation movement is for a just, equitable and reconciled country. This will only be achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Peoples of this land, are able to equally contribute to daily life of the nation. Until this happens, Australia will not reach its full potential.
We need more people speaking up, asking the hard questions and taking action during and beyond National Reconciliation Week. To help you, Reconciliation Australia have compiled 20 actions for reconciliation.
If you are hesitant to challenge some of the long-held but incorrect ideas in your community, be assured that across this country many people just like you are joining First Nations peoples in this effort.
This National Reconciliation Week, make reconciliation more than a word. Move from safe to brave on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
1. Move from ally to accomplice
Being only three per cent of the Australian population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can’t raise the profile of important issues without allies. But what does a good ally look like?
SAFER -Know how to be a better ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
BRAVER -Step up, show up, be an accomplice. Disruption of the status quo is often necessary to achieve real change.
2. Call Out Racism
Racism damages lives and livelihoods. Whether in the city, regions, online or in public spaces, getting abused, ignored, refused service or getting followed by security, has long-lasting damaging effects.
SAFER – Check you understand how your unconscious bias and attitudes affect your thinking and actions.
3. It’s all our history
A key challenge in the reconciliation movement has been overturning the cult of disremembering and the great Australian silence when it comes to our true history.
SAFER – When talking about the history or story of Australia, always include the participation and presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
BRAVER – Find out facts and ways to learn and talk about Australia’s history
4. Know your local history
Australia’s history is marred by massacres, forced removals and cultural genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Memorialising and commemorating those who committed these acts continues the suffering inflicted by the original crime.
SAFER – Investigate your local history and the record of colonial leaders who are memorialised by place names in your local area.
BRAVER – If they are guilty of historical crimes against First Nations peoples, then start a community conversation about renaming these places.
5. Create culturally safe places
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples don’t always feel safe or welcomed in some places, and have been historically excluded from many.
SAFER – Understand what could make your school or workplace a more welcoming and safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
BRAVER – Seek cultural awareness training locally or find a facilitator via Supply Nation.
6. Make reconciliation everyone’s business
Make reconciliation part of the business of your workplace culture and decision-making. Practical, reportable actions will drive an organisation’s contribution to reconciliation internally and in the communities in which it operates.
SAFER – Start a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for your workplace.
BRAVER – Already have a RAP? Join your RAP Working Group.
7. Drive reconciliation in education
If you didn’t learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander cultures at school, make sure our kids do now.
8. Aim higher in higher education
Voices, systems of knowledge, ways of being, and the specific expertise of First Nations professionals and students are still fighting to be heard in universities and colleges.
SAFER – Connect and work with First Peoples to improve the teaching of First Nations history, current affairs, and cultures in your college or university.
BRAVER – Encourage your educational institution to fund research into frontier wars, massacres, and other areas of underexplored Australian history. Take the workload off First Nations academics.
9. Support self-determination
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be in charge of decision-making and leadership for themselves and their communities.
BRAVER – Support and promote community-controlled and Indigenous governed organisations.
10. Get your facts first-hand
Inaccurate portrayals, negative stereotypes, and under-investigation and reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander issues means if you want the whole story you should start at the source.
SAFER – Inform yourself with First Nations produced and created content and news. Check out and follow NITV, Koori Mail, National Indigenous Times, IndigenousX, ABC Indigenous and find your local broadcaster via First Nations Media.
BRAVER – Speak out against and prosecute blatant racism and misinformation in mainstream media reporting.
11. Act to protect First Nations cultures
Knowing, understanding and being strong in culture influences the health and well-being of First Nations peoples. Practicing culture offers mental, economic and physical strength.
SAFER – Host a Reconciliation Film Club screening in your home, workplace, or school. Support listen to and distribute music from Indigenous artists on IndigiTUBE and Spotify playlists like NIMA, Original Storytellers,
BRAVER – Support and protect Indigenous protocols in the Arts. Report cultural theft or infringements.
12. Support economic development
Discrimination in employment, education and housing contribute to poverty today, but its roots go deep into generations of stolen wages, stolen land, historic exclusion, and discrimination.
SAFER – Understand the historical causes of poverty and economic disempowerment through stolen wages dispossession, discrimination and exclusion.
BRAVER – Find out ways you can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander economic development and businesses via Supply Nation when searching for contractors, suppliers and products.
13. Understand political representation
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples have been fighting for a political voice, and structural changes like treaty, for more than 100 years.
SAFER – Learn the long history of representative bodies and calls for treaty.
14. Challenge our leaders to take action on justice
Proportionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the most incarcerated people on the planet. There have been more than 470 who have died in police and prison custody since 1991.
SAFER – Learn and understand the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the justice systems.
15. Buy from First Nations businesses
Purchase Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art or products only from Indigenous-owned businesses.
BRAVER – Call out exploitation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, culture, people and businesses. Every Wednesday #wearitblakwednesday, wearing or sharing something you have purchased from a Blak business.
16. Defend Land Rights and Native Title
Australia’s First Peoples have defended their lands and waters, and asserted their rights to their homelands since the beginning of colonisation. Land justice is hard fought for and must be vigilantly guarded.
BRAVER – Find out about Land Justice efforts and advocacy in your local area. Appropriately leverage your skills and sphere of influence in support.
17. Acknowledging Country
Acknowledging Country shows you accept and understand that no matter where you are across this nation, you are on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands. It is a cultural practice, and also a political act.
SAFER – Know whose Country you are on. Know the difference between and Acknowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country.
BRAVER – Including the name of Country when posting letters and parcels. Encourage businesses you buy from to add an address section for this on ordering forms.
18. Care for Country
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have stewarded, nurtured and cared for Australia’s diverse environment and waterways for over 80,000 years. Environmental knowledge and activism must prioritise First Nations right to manage and self-determine their own Country.
SAFER – Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives systems of knowledge on our natural environment, including Seed Mob, the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, Firesticks Alliance, and Yerrabingin.
BRAVER – Learn about how climate change is going to directly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Stand up in support for those it’s already affecting.
19. Speak up for languages
Language is inseparable from culture, and culture is empowerment. There are more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, including about 800 dialects.
SAFER – Know your local area language(s) of the Traditional Custodians of the land on which you live. Where available, organise for a Traditional Custodian to teach some of this language to your workplace or community group.
BRAVER – Actively support First Nations language revival programs. Know and use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander placenames and petition councils and governments to use placenames. Make First Nations languages visible in public spaces.
20. Get involved beyond NRW2021
SAFER – Find an NRW2021 event in your area – or better yet, host your own. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Post an Acknowledgement of Country on 27 May 2021, to mark the opening of National Reconciliation Week.
BRAVER – Take these actions and reflect on how you are going to move from safe to brave on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, beyond NRW2021. Share with your community, family and friends. Ask others to take their awareness, and turn it into action on reconciliation.
National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June.
Reproduced with permission from Reconciliation Australia.