I’m a firm believer that equality empowers people and strengthens communities. To this end, I wanted to join the Committee to see how I could use my communication skills to convey why reconciliation is an important step to empowering Indigenous Australians. Our First Nations people still experience inequality on so many levels and being part of establishing our RAP was a case of practicing what I preach: that every person has the right to feel included, valued and heard in our society.
My best friend is a proud Murri man who has shared with me some of the difficulties he’s faced in identifying as Indigenous, as well as the journey to accepting and embracing it as a strength. His great uncle was Cecil Ramalli – the first Aboriginal man to play for the Wallabies! Aside from this special relationship, I attended high school in Brisbane, which offered boarding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls from remote communities across Australia. It was a school driven by strong social justice values and celebrating Indigenous students taught me that diversity enriches communities.
To listen. Often it’s easy to be vocal about issues we care about, such as reconciliation, but it’s vitally important to take a back seat and allow the voices of Indigenous Australians to steer the conversation forward. The learning curve for me has been around how I can take a supportive role in reconciliation, without speaking on behalf of Indigenous people. I believe it is their thoughts, feelings and experiences that should lead the discussion on how we can close the gap on inequality.
The Indigenous dance workshop always stands out. It was so fun to see the organisation come alive and get involved, but I also remember listening to one of the women leading the class talk about the discrimination she faces on a daily basis. That was a poignant moment for me – to learn that a woman who is deeply proud of her heritage is made to feel as though she shouldn’t be.
Wonderfully. Some of the actions outlined in our RAP have been taken on by teams across our organisation without question. Every one of us is now walking this journey – the Committee is merely responsible for keeping us on track
Reconciliation and Indigenous engagement can help drive us towards a sustainable built environment in ways that are immeasurable at this stage. We’ve only scratched the surface, and I think that as we continue on a pathways towards empowering First Australians, we will learn invaluable lessons from a culture that has survived sustainably on this land for thousands of years.