By Lisa Warner
Actions speak louder than words. Too often Reconciliation is spoken about as a solution to right the wrongs of the past, but that’s not all it is. Reconciliation has elements of truth, justice, forgiveness, healing and love. Supporting Reconciliation means working together to overcome the division and inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal people.
National Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to remind people that we are all “In This Together” and we need to support one another in moving forward toward a healthier and happier future.
As the oldest living culture, First Nations peoples of this country should be recognised for their wisdom, traditions and connections to country. There is much work to be done – we can only walk together into a future where First Nations people don’t face inequality and marginalisation once we have truly reconciled our past.
“We are the oldest continuing culture; we need to do everything we can to keep our languages, traditions and practices alive. My family have lost cultural connections due to forced removal policies and I have had to fight to reclaim them – I want every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child to be able to connect with their culture and not have to fight for it.”Elizabeth Close, YWCA Australia’s Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Program (AWLP) participant
Leading change in our communities and progressing Reconciliation, self-determination and justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a collective movement. We must value the leadership, ideas, expertise, contribution and autonomy that First Nations peoples bring to all areas. We must stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples and work together to create an Australia where Reconciliation is not just an idea, but a reality in which true and meaningful change happens.
“National Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to remind people that we are all “in this together” and we need to support one another in moving forward toward a healthier and happier future for our society. As Aboriginal women especially, we need to work together and not against each other; collaborating not competing; lifting each other up, not holding us down. It is important for us to ride the wave of attention that this week brings to the broader community via the media and events, but also to help carry on a ripple effect beyond the week. Reconciliation, recognition and reverence should be in action all throughout the year.”Rebecca Wessels, Managing Director Ochre Dawn Creative Industries
As a nation we must have an understanding that historical loss, grief and mourning as a result of colonisation continues to have a social and emotional impact on Aboriginal and Torres Islander people. It is crucial that we make time to practice old traditions that have allowed for growth, release and the ability to be at peace – mind, body and spirit. This is an everyday effort that requires humility, respect, listening and learning. I believe that together we can bring about real change uniting a nation.
This is what “In This Together” means to me. So…are we in this together?
While you’re here, check out this amazing video put together by our team in Northern New South Wales, where program participants share what “In This Together” means to them.
Lisa Warner is the Program Coordinator for YWCA Australia’s Adelaide-based Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Program. She is a proud Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara woman who is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and gender equality.
As National Reconciliation Week comes to a close, we also reflect on the Black Lives Matter protests in the US which have deep painful parallels with experiences of state violence against First Nations people and Aboriginal deaths in custody. We all have a role in fighting systemic prejudice, racism and inequality, and YWCA Australia is committed to playing our part.