January 31, 2012
By Leah Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer
The recent events have demonstrated how important our work is to achieving a united and reconciled Australia. I think it is appropriate that we reflect on the events and what we believe is important.
We cannot ignore the level of frustration that exists in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; however being aggressive is not the most constructive way to express these frustrations.
Reconciliation Australia’s role is vital to ensuring that we focus on the positive developments and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and promoting working together in a progressive and respectful manner.
The Reconciliation Australia breakfast for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian of the Year finalists, was a wonderful event to meet inspirational people and to hear firsthand their stories. These figures are important for reconciliation. Not only do they inspire the nation but they inspire individuals.
This year’s Senior Australian of the Year winner, Laurie Baymarrwangga is an amazing woman who has been doing incredible work for her people by preserving her culture and keeping it alive for future generations to share. It was very moving to watch her story being relayed at the Awards ceremony in her own language and being narrated by a fantastic emerging young leader, Carla McGrath.
The formalities of the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony on the morning of Australia Day were a mark of how far we have come. The inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags being raised along with the Australian flag; Aunty Agnes Shea welcoming everyone to Ngunnawal country and Adam Gilchrist, the Prime Minister and the Governor General all paying their respects to the traditional owners and the First peoples of Australia were all welcomed steps forward. These acts of inclusiveness and recognition have been demonstrated throughout many Australia Day ceremonies.
These simple important actions are testament to the progress that is being made and change is happening, but we acknowledge that lot more still needs to continue. We all know reconciliation is a big process and there is no single strand. The outcomes we are witnessing through our RAP partners and their commitment to opportunities and actions that go to the heart of overcoming employment, education and health inequality are also signs of the change that is happening.
Everyone has a role in facilitating and advancing this movement. I hope that the Australian community will continue to hold these positive images front and centre as it is the only way we can foster proactive change.