Progressing towards a unified Australia — where inclusion and belonging are the rule, not the exception — requires us to create a space where we respect each other. Respect breeds acceptance, which in turn establishes trust. Only when all three elements are in place can we move forward and truly walk together.
Monday marks the start of National Reconciliation Week — a time to learn about our shared history and to explore how each of us can contribute to a positive, unified future. This week covers two significant dates: the 1967 referendum to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them, and the High Court Mabo decision, which recognised the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners of the land.
What does this mean for us at SSI? We all live and work on Aboriginal land. Every day, when we come to work, we walk on land where traditional custodians have had culture and connection for more than 60,000 years. That is a privilege – a privilege we must acknowledge and reciprocate by ensuring that, when we walk on this land, we walk together.
This year’s Reconciliation Week theme is ‘Grounded in truth: walk together with courage’. Walking together is about learning, exploring our commonalities, understanding our differences, and supporting each other. When you walk together with someone you walk beside them — not in front, not behind.
As an organisation, SSI has embarked on a journey of reconciliation. What’s our vision for that journey? We are still determining that, with the leadership of our Walking Together Committee, which was recently established to consult on Indigenous matters and develop our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The reason SSI is driving this process is because we recognise that we are stronger as one. Reconciliation is about acknowledging the strength within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and all that we have to gain by embracing one another’s contributions — socially, economically, culturally and spiritually.
Growing our engagement with, and understanding of, Australia’s First Nations cultures is our shared privilege.
By connecting with people from different walks of life and getting to know the person behind the label, we have the opportunity to see that there are no gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities — just people, coming together to respect, accept and trust each other.