Take the next step: 4 ways to contribute to reconciliation beyond National Reconciliation Week

3 min read

It’s been 50 years since Indigenous Australians were finally recognised in the constitution through referendum, 25 years since the landmark Mabo decision acknowledged native title and 9 years since Prime Minister Rudd formally apologised to the Stolen Generations.

While progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go.

Change is often slow, its pace immensely frustrating to those waiting for it. Take these disturbing statistics for example. Infant mortality rates for Indigenous Australians were almost double that of non-Indigenous children over 2008-2012, while over 2012-2013, Indigenous Australians were four times more likely to be hospitalised for chronic conditions compared to non-Indigenous Australians*.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 is 27 May – 2 June and has the theme ‘Let’s take the next step’.

So what’s your next step? Here’s some ways to work for change beyond the week’s activities.

1) Do a six week Jawun secondment through work
Some workplaces offer secondments through Jawun (www.jawun.org.au), a not-for-profit organisation which forms partnerships between Indigenous communities, government and corporate organisations. A secondment through Jawun might see you supporting an Indigenous organisation in a whole range of ways, including; corporate governance, business development, project management, marketing, skills transfer etc. Recently a secondee from Westpac, (a founding partner of Jawun) spent her Jawun secondment in a remote Cape York community and assisted with the development of their community camping business. Her work entailed activities such as upgrading their website to facilitate online payments for bookings and facilitating a partnership with a local registered training and job find agency to maintain campsites and offer skills accreditation.

2) Get involved by volunteering
Consider supporting the community by volunteering with one of the many organisations working to bridge the gap. One example is Indigenous Community Volunteers (www.icv.com.au) which pairs skilled volunteers with communities seeking specific assistance or support. You could also speak to local organisations in your area, like 100.9fm Noongar Radio in Perth, or Aboriginal Literacy Foundation in Melbourne about opportunities to volunteer.

3) Attend events and shows
No matter your hobbies and interests, you should be able to find an event for you. You could support the AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round. Attend the Bangarra Dance Theatre. Camp at the Barunga Festival. Or combine a love of music, sport and entertainment by getting tickets to the Deadly Awards.

4) Be part of the change you want to see
It’s easy to be part of change. This could be small things like supporting indigenous businesses or using an Aboriginal tour company if you are in areas of cultural significance like Uluru. Be ready to listen and build your understanding by listening to people across the Aboriginal community and reading indigenous authors like Alexis Wright and Kim Scott.

These are just a beginning. For more ideas on getting involved, visit reconciliation.org.au

* Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 2014, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2014, Productivity Commission, Canberra.

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This information is current as at 02/06/2017.

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