During National Reconciliation Week (27 May-3 June 2022), we all need to remember that every time we gather, we meet on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Lands. In our genuine acknowledgement of Country, we show that we know and recognise that we are on First Nations Lands.
We are seeing more Acknowledgement of Country around us, for example the ABC television is putting up the names of the lands from where they are reading the news and reporting, and a very small amount of mail now arrives with the Traditional Place Name as part of the mailing address.
Knowing the traditional name of where you live reminds us every day that we are on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island land for example, I live on Wulgurukaba land, on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) in Camoomilli (Picnic Bay).
This year the theme of National Reconciliation Week is Be Brave. Make Change. For me this is a time to reflect on how I will live this theme in my life and work. How will I be brave and make change?
Reconciliation Australia lists 19 actions to make change on their website. What we can do is choose several and make them part of our everyday life. This does not mean ignoring the remaining actions, rather, take small steps and make them a habit. Therefore, I have chosen to:
1. Tell the truth on racism - one of the suggested links is to the Racism. It Stops with Me national campaign where many strategies are canvassed. Even when someone makes a throw away comment, I will make an effort to stop the conversation and pick up the comment.
2. Acknowledge Country - as a facilitator, I am leading groups (virtual and face to face) so I have the opportunity to lead an Acknowledgement of Country and be truly grateful to the Traditional Owners for the Lands and waters that I am working and learning on at the time. Many of us do this already - can we think of other opportunities to speak and feel our Acknowledgment of Country?
3. Get your facts first-hand First nations media and the ABC Indigenous YouTube channel are great places to start.
4. Speak up for languages Learn a few words of the language of the Country you live on. I am surrounded by andha (salt water in Wulgurukaba). We have gorgeous namuru (sunset) and we yana (go or walk) a lot. I have also been privileged to speak to some of the authors of children's books written in Ganngalida, Garrawa, Waanyi and English, as part of a project in Doomadgee (Qld) supported by Save the Children and Library for All.
5. Support Truth Telling - I have added one of my own actions; Encouraging Truth Telling in any way that I can, for example, listening and creating a safe space for First Nations stories and Truth Telling.
So how will you be Be Brave and Make Change?