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National Reconcilation Week 2021: More than a word - Reconciliation takes action

25 May 2021

Reflections on reconciliation

We all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation - as individuals, families, communities, organisations, and importantly as a nation. This Reconciliation Week, our community reflects on how to take more meaningful action.

What does reconciliation mean to you?

Jay Edwards - Voice, Treaty and Truth

Reconciliation is the respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their culture. This has many layers and should be integrated into all aspects of Australian policy and life.

As an action toward reconciliation, I am particularly passionate about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is themed around: Voice, Treaty, and Truth. Three themes that I believe are the essential steps in reconciliation.

Jay Edwards is a University of Sydney Gadigal Learning Officer and ITAS Coordinator. His family are proud Palawa people from Central Tasmania, but their traditional family name was lost after they fled to Flinders Island and then emigrated to New Zealand during the Black War. Now his family is all over Australia and New Zealand, but they are still connected through Tasmania and their traditional land.

What kind of action towards reconciliation do you want to see more of?

Iman Irannejad - Remote support and deaths in custody

More support and funding for small and remote Indigenous communities. Some of the living conditions among these groups are unacceptable for citizens of a developed country in the 21st century. Also, the high rate of Indigenous prisoners and their deaths in custody is a shocking issue that needs to be addressed urgently.

Iman Irannejad is a videographer for the University of Sydney's Indigenous Strategy and Services team. He immigrated to Australia in 2010 and was granted Australian citizenship in 2015. As a new Australian he is proud to contribute to the community as a storyteller. He believes understanding and sharing First Nations’ stories is an important part of a continuing Australian identity.

What are some simple actions individuals can take towards reconciliation?

Dr Gabrielle Russell - Cultural competence and advocacy

Listen - the path to true reconciliation is clearly articulated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people if we can only hear.

Be informed – learn about the history of this country and understand the ongoing impacts and contemporary contexts.

Hold political leaders and institutions accountable - ask them what they are doing to support the Statement from the Heart, ending deaths in custody, or ensuring that disparities in health and education are addressed.

Be a good ally - develop your ability to recognise and address racism when it arises.

Develop your cultural competence - sign up for workshops or online modules run by the National Centre for Cultural Competence.

Gabrielle Russell is Assistant Director and Education Lead at the National Centre for Cultural Competence. She is interested in teaching how to develop cultural competence from a non-Indigenous perspective by facilitating a deeper understanding of transformative ways to learn and work together.

What steps toward reconciliation have you seen that are meaningful to you?

Jake Gordon - Education and leadership

The growth of First Nations peoples attending higher education is definitely something that I think has grown significantly since I was a school leaver.  

As an Aboriginal man, navigating working full-time while studying at University was difficult. Having the various support mechanisms which now exist is a wonderful advantage.

The increased number of First Nations staff in identified and mainstream roles is also a key driver in achieving successful outcomes for First Nations communities.

Jake Gordon is a University of Sydney Engagement and Partnerships Manager and PhD student. His family originates from Brewarrina (Gamilaraay Country) in NSW. Through his career, Jake has established himself as a youth advocate, working with various charity organisations and across the public sector.


Recognise and celebrate National Reconciliation Week

We invite our community to join us in our commitment to reconciliation by improving your cultural competence, learning about the action we are taking as a University and registering for our online panel event, 'The Journey Home: Reconciliation through repatriation', premiering 27 May.

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