Thirteen years ago, we witnessed a pivotal moment in Australian history and a seismic shift towards reconciliation: the Apology.
While long overdue, we can credit the timing of the 2008 Apology to an urgent act of bravery—to finally and formally acknowledge the suffering caused by decades of mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
So many Australians had done the hard yards in the lead up to that day by learning about our shared history to better understand why an apology was necessary.
Together, we stood in schools, workplaces, public places, lounge rooms and on bridges in solidarity and unity, sharing a moment of deep reflection, sorrow, and pride to be Australian. On that day, I remember saying that we looked in the mirror, and we liked what we saw.
Some of the nation’s most important and difficult work is reflected in the work of Reconciliation Australia over the last 20 years. As Reconciliation Australia’s inaugural Chairman, I have witnessed the key milestones, challenges and lofty aspirations that have shaped our thinking and hopes for a better tomorrow.
The 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia Report presents that wellworn path and expertly examines the progress we have made, and the way forward. The five pillars of reconciliation, as set out in detail in the Report, give us a strong framework for attention.
Action on these pillars can only be realised by being truthful; truthful to ourselves and truth-telling. That truth must begin by owning our personal biases, and confronting our nation’s collective racism, both overt and covert.
Bravery in the face of racism will be our change agent. Now is the time to take a deeply personal journey and have the uncomfortable conversations.
And we need to extend those conversations to those within our sphere of influence, both professionally and personally.
The above is an excerpt of an article from the May 2021 edition of Reconciliation News by Shelley Reys, CEO of Arrilla Indigenous Consulting and previous inaugural Co-Chair of the Reconciliation Australia Board of Directors.