The ‘small but big’ things you can start doing for Reconciliation
As Reconciliation Week draws to an end across the country, there have been and will be a multitude of events aimed at strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous peoples – including a Perth Walk for Reconciliation, which I’m looking forward to taking part in alongside my Cannings Purple colleagues.
But what I’d like to reflect on are more everyday ways that businesses and the individuals within them can consistently contribute to the Reconciliation cause.
For larger companies, these might form part of a much-bigger Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). For smaller businesses, there might be a less formal framework, but the question addressed should be the same in both instances: “How do we work together to foster better relationships and enhance the access and equity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our society?”
You’d be surprised at the big impact some seemingly small initiatives can have, particularly in increasing cultural awareness and competency among staff.
Here are some examples:
- Acknowledge: A meaningful acknowledgement (or when relevant a Welcome to Country) should be made at every event. Do not just make it a standing agenda item but instead ensure you and the people in the room understand why it is being conducted and the importance of paying respect. Displaying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags is also a great way to acknowledge Indigenous people at your event, or even keep them on display permanently.
- Learn: When was the last time you or your team had a conversation with an Aboriginal person (or a staff member) about their journey, family origins and language and culture? As an example, prominent Noongar community member and Elder Dr Richard Walley has given extremely engaging presentations to the Cannings Purple team about the history of Welcome to Country and the six seasons of the Noongar calendar.
- Remind: Make awareness of Aboriginal culture an ongoing conversation in your workplace. Bestowing Aboriginal names on meeting rooms is a common practice in modern office environments but these should be accompanied by explanations and stories that outline the context of the names and their history. You could also support local Aboriginal artists by hanging their artwork around your business or by offering your spaces to host community events.
- Connect: What partnerships can you grow with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and associated peak bodies and businesses? Some of the most rewarding work Cannings Purple has done in the past 12 months has been in partnership with the Noongar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which launched in August as an Australian-first advocacy group and referral network for businesses operating in the South West of WA.
- Implement: Conduct an audit of your recruitment policies and selection criteria with the advice of specialists in Aboriginal recruitment. There may be opportunities to tailor and implement strategies that encourage Indigenous applicants to apply.
When I joined Cannings Purple earlier this year, a big part of the attraction for me was the calibre of people I’d get to work with.
But it was more than that. It was also an opportunity to join a business that was genuine in its sense of a moral compass, where there was a truly authentic desire to “start and shape conversations that matter.”
One of the most important ongoing conversations in Australia is about Reconciliation and Treaty. Which is why my colleagues and I will proudly walk together from Wardang Gardens to Yagan Square today.
I hope you will join us.
Charlie Wilson-Clark is Director of Cannings Purple’s Stakeholder Engagement team and a community and stakeholder engagement specialist, with more than 20 years’ experience and a passion for Indigenous affairs. Contact Charlie.
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- What to expect from the re-elected Coalition Government
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