Reconciliation requires action. Awareness is not the end game.
Writer and academic Summer May Finlay uses the results of the 2021 State of Reconciliation in Australia report to push allies and accomplices to braver action.
Early this year, Reconciliation Australia released the 2021 State of Reconciliation In Australia Report: Moving from Safe to Brave. I’m sure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who read it, there will be no surprises.
There may even be a few sighs. The reaction is not a reflection of Reconciliation Australia’s ability to produce a high-quality insightful report, but rather a feeling that all of it has been said before. Therefore, someone with a healthy dose of cynicism (which is most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) will be asking, ‘if little has changed before, will much change now?’
Because I am a glass-half-full kind of person, let’s start with the positive points.
The report is the second of its kind—the first was released in 2016. The most significant difference in the findings of the two reports is that currently, the Australian public is more likely to believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is essential. Many also think it is vital to Close the Gap in health, justice, education and employment.
This positive change can be attributed to an increase in awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories. Big thumbs up to all those who have taken the time to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Yet, awareness isn’t enough. It’s not the end game. It’s actually only the very first baby step. What’s required from non-Indigenous people is action. Substantive action. Action that will likely make a lot of non-Indigenous people feel uncomfortable. That makes them squirm just talking about it with like-minded people. What’s required is action that tackles racism including institutional, systemic and interpersonal racism.