Mitchell Gibbs and Lisa Jackson Pulver

Working towards reconciliation together

25 May 2023
How we can all make a lasting impact towards reconciliation
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver and postdoctoral researcher Dr Mitchell Gibbs reflect on this year's National Reconciliation Week theme, 'Be a Voice for Generations'.
Mitchell Gibbs and Lisa Jackson Pulver

Dr Mitchell Gibbs, postdoctoral researcher and Thunghutti man through kinship of the Dunghutti nation, and Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services). Photograph by Cornel Ozies.

How do you use your voice to be a voice for your generation?

Lisa: I have dedicated much of my work to health and education. For me – this is an act of service to community, and working hard with many others to get us all to understand what it is to belong to a land, and to work in a place like this, that is hosted on a place that has always been a place of learning, knowledge exchange and ceremony.

Many people before me have paved the way for us all, and it’s important that we always remember that and that we ‘pay forward’ by ensuring others can have the opportunities we have had.

Mitchell: I try to use my voice in the academic space to replicate the needs and wants of community members. Making sure I am led by Elders from home and here in Sydney. Keeping their voice alive and heard.

How can Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people be a voice during National Reconciliation Week (NRW)?

Lisa: Reconciliation is something we must work towards and for together, and something that can only be achieved with mutual respect and a deep understanding and listening to each other.

Right now, we have an opportunity to discuss and share our thinking in relation to the referendum. This a momentous time in our Nation’s history, and we have a chance to come together and make a lasting change for future generations.

Speaking up and advocating for the change in our constitution, is an important step that will contribute to the long road of reconciliation in our nation. I fully support the referendum and will continue to support my friends, family, and colleagues to make an informed decision in the upcoming referendum.

Mitchell: To start with it's important to understand that Indigenous voices have been for a long time left in the background, so really listening to our community Elders about what they see and what we need, and present that being a voice for our Elders is the best way we can be a voice during NRW and all year long.

How can the next generation of young leaders make a lasting impact to reconciliation?

Lisa: It’s important that those who come after us recognise the role they have in being able to create lasting and impactful change beyond their own immediate environment.

Our youth have a chance to share knowledge and truth telling beyond their own circle and with that comes an opportunity to engage in insightful conversations and create a sense of understanding and belonging for everyone.

Mitchell: I feel like the next generation can make a lasting impression to reconciliation by continuing in the footsteps and actions of our Elders and Ancestors. They have done so much work to get us to where we are today and to make sure we continue that, I feel, is the best way we can pay homage to them and continue their important legacy for generations to come.

What can non-Aboriginal people do in their actions to work towards reconciliation beyond this week?

Lisa: Learning and listening to those who have lived experiences and recognising the injustices within their own communities and act to make change. There must also be preparation for the inevitable truth-telling of the ongoing consequences of the colonial process of this land. There is much to share, and to reconcile, as our nation bravely steps into an unknown future. It’s time to heal, and this will take us all to make the effort to tell, to be heard, to listen and to learn.

How can the wisdom from our Elders help us in reconciliation?

Lisa: This year’s NRW theme reminds us – “For the work of generations past, and the benefit of generations future” – something we must remember as we look towards the future.

Many of our Elders may have walked difficult paths, and with their experience, wisdom, knowledge, and their generous gift of their guidance we will be able to better support those who are growing up now and those to come.

We have so many rich, shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and NRW gives us an opportunity for all Australians to learn and make their own unique role in achieving reconciliation.

Mitchell: Our Elders are our knowledge holders, listening to them, hearing them, and sharing their perspective is what is important. Their combined understanding of what reconciliation looks like will benefit all of us.

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