Reconciliation Action Plans are not, and should not be, a simple box ticking exercise: They are a powerful tool for creating positive change. So what can we do to think outside the box, beyond the mandatory deliverables, and set a strong foundation for reconciliation?
What extra do you want to do?
This will depend on your company, and where you’re at. It may be appropriate to simply focus on setting that strong foundation within your company by getting the basics right: understanding and building cultural competency, putting together a strong business case, and starting to build your relationships.
Or maybe you’re further along on the journey, and feel it’s time to stretch. If you prefer to view your deliverables as a minimum requirement, you could start think about ways to build on them. What’s the next step? How can we make things more impactful? What are diversity leaders doing?
Either way, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices should be central to your decision making. Anytime you are doing anything which impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, that decision should be made with us, and not for us. This is summed up in the principle Nothing about us without us.
What extra is within your sphere of influence?
There is one factor within everybody’s sphere of influence which is very important to reconciliation: truth telling.
But what is truth telling, and why is it important?
Reconciliation Australia describes how there are five interrelated dimensions to reconciliation: race relations, equity and equality, institutional integrity, unity, and historical acceptance. You can read more about these here.
Truth telling weaves these five dimensions together, because the successive government policies throughout Australia’s history directly impact the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now - and making this history known is a crucial part of understanding the past, and building respect and relationships in the present.
Truth-telling is a journey that is both personal and professional. It is not an easy undertaking, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
To return to the original question of what extra is within your sphere of influence, the answer, for everyone, is truth telling: listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who choose to share a story with you. Read about Australia’s history. Make space to absorb those stories, and their implications. These stories are not about non-Aboriginal people being responsible for the past – but about understanding and accepting what has happened until now, and taking responsibility for changing the status quo so that it does not continue to happen.
What can you do in your workplace to embrace truth telling as part of your reconciliation journey?
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