In a year when a national referendum will take place, the importance of understanding National Reconciliation Week and the support organisations and individuals can provide, is critical.
The aptly named theme for 2023 is ‘Be a Voice for Generations’ and encourages us to be a voice for reconciliation. What does this mean and how can organisations and individuals promote reconciliation, awareness and understanding?
National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) marks a time to celebrate and build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. As an organisation, participating in this annual observance signifies your commitment to reconciliation and a more inclusive society.
Educate and Communicate
Education is key. We must all take responsibility to educate ourselves, using credible sources, to understand the shared history of First Nations Australians and European Settlers. Understanding the truth of our past, or ‘Truth Telling’, is a necessary step towards reconciliation.
Share information about the significance of Reconciliation Week with your team through newsletters, emails, social media, or dedicated meetings. Consider inviting Indigenous leaders or speakers to share their stories and insights.
Reconciliation Australia shares a brief educational history here and From the Heart shares interactive digital resources about The Voice here all of which you can share with employees, colleagues, friends and family.
Cultivating Respectful Relationships
Participating in Reconciliation Week enables organisations to cultivate respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This respect is vital for fostering an inclusive work environment and for building stronger relationships with Indigenous communities. This includes learning how to be a good ally as this SBS/NITV article explains.
how we create safe and inclusive workplaceslearn more
Supporting Reconciliation Efforts
Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations, and importantly as a nation. By marking Reconciliation Week, your organisation contributes to the reconciliation process by recognising and respecting Indigenous rights, histories and cultures.
Participate in Community Events
There are many community events during National Reconciliation Week some of which are listed here. Encourage your employees to attend Reconciliation Week events in your local community. This could include marches, festivals, workshops, or cultural experiences. Many corporate buildings organise cultural events making it easy if you’re in the office during the week.
Understand the ‘Why’ when you Acknowledge Traditional Custodians
Do you understand why an Acknowledgement of Country is important? This great TEDx video with Shelley Reys explains the ‘why’ and empowers us to bring meaning to our Acknowledgements. This practice is a simple yet powerful way to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their unique relationship with the land.
Support Indigenous Businesses
Consider sourcing goods or services from Indigenous-owned businesses during this week and beyond. This action supports economic growth and self-determination within Indigenous communities. Simple Google searches will deliver options or you can consult your local Indigenous Chamber of Commerce - these often have a directory you can access.
Develop a Reconciliation Action Plan
A Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines practical actions that your organisation can take to contribute to reconciliation. It's a commitment to specific actions designed to build respectful relationships and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Promote Your Participation
Share your activities and commitment to reconciliation on your social media channels and other communication platforms. This can inspire other organisations to participate and show your stakeholders your commitment to a more inclusive and equitable Australia.
Marking Reconciliation Week in Australia is a vital step for organisations in acknowledging our shared history and moving forward together. By actively participating, your organisation can help foster a sense of unity, mutual respect, and understanding, contributing to a more inclusive Australia.