Australia’s National Reconciliation Week (27 May - 3 June) is an annual observance that promotes unity, understanding, and mutual respect among all people, particularly between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. The week is marked by an array of activities designed to foster reconciliation and positive race relations. As an organisation, you have a unique opportunity to contribute to these efforts.
Here are some ways your organisation can actively participate during Reconciliation Week:
1. Learn and Share the History
Reconciliation Week is bookended by two significant milestones in Australia's reconciliation journey – the 1967 referendum (27 May) and the High Court Mabo decision (3 June). In addition, National Sorry Day is 26 May. This date acknowledges the mistreatment of the Stolen Generation who were forcibly removed from their homes and families. Make sure your team understands the importance of these dates. Share information through newsletters, social media, or dedicated meetings. This not only educates your staff but also shows your commitment to reconciliation.
2. Organise Cultural Activities
Invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, musicians, dancers, or storytellers to share their culture with your team. This could be a virtual event or, if possible, in person. Such interactions can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures, histories, and contributions.
3. Incorporate Acknowledgement of Country
Start your meetings with an Acknowledgement of Country, a traditional Australian custom that pays respect to the traditional custodians of the land. This practice will foster an environment of mutual respect and recognition of the unique relationship between Indigenous Australians and the land.
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4. Foster Dialogue
Create safe spaces for conversations about Indigenous issues. This could be through workshops, discussion groups, or guest speaker events. Encourage your staff to ask questions, share thoughts, and engage in respectful dialogue.
5. Support Indigenous Businesses
Consider sourcing products or services from Indigenous-owned and operated businesses during Reconciliation Week and beyond. This can have a positive impact on the Indigenous community by supporting economic development and self-determination.
6. Develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
A RAP is a strategic document that supports an organisation’s business plan. It includes practical actions that will drive your organisation’s contribution to reconciliation, both internally and in the communities in which you operate.
7. Engage with Local Community Events
Check out the Reconciliation Australia website or local community listings for events happening in your area during Reconciliation Week and encourage your employees to attend and participate. If you work in a large corporate building, often the building’s management will have planned events in which staff can participate.
8. Share Your Actions
Share your reconciliation activities and efforts on your social media channels and internal communications. This shows your commitment and might inspire other organisations to do the same.
Remember, participating in Reconciliation Week is more than just a week-long event. It's about building long-term relationships that are grounded in mutual respect and understanding. These actions should be an ongoing part of your organisation's commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable Australia.
Reconciliation is not the responsibility of one person, community, or organisation but all of us. Let's work together to build a united and reconciled Australia.