Being a voice for generations past, present and future.

“Reconciliation is an ongoing journey, and it requires sustained commitment and action.” – Tenielle Rolfe

“Be a Voice for Generations” is this year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week. It’s a call for all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways through every aspect of life. To combine the work of generations past and present with the opportunities of the future to champion a more just, equitable and reconciled Australia for all.

 

I recently sat down with Ken Adams, ANZ Reconciliation Network sponsor; Tenielle Rolfe, proud Mununjali woman and Network Deputy Chair, and Glenn Turnham, proud Taungurung man and Network Chair, to discuss this year’s theme and how everyday Australians can move from ally to accomplice.

 

What does this year’s theme for Reconciliation Week mean to you?

 

Glenn: The role of our voice in a reconciled future is incredibly important. We need to ensure our own voice speaks for the generations of inequality. And for the generations to come, we need to keep the conversation going.

 

Tenielle: It encapsulates the essence of our collective efforts to foster a reconciled future. Reconciliation is an ongoing journey and it requires sustained commitment and action.

 

What can people do to move from ally to accomplice?

 

Ken: Allies play an important role in standing with marginalised communities and providing support. Accomplices tackle issues that cause systemic inequity at a root and branch level. That’s why the Voice to Parliament is important – it is structural change.

 

Tenielle: Make a proactive and ongoing commitment to learning, advocating and supporting First Nations peoples. Take the initiative to learn what land you are on. Engage with First Nations voices and stories. Build meaningful relationships with First Nations individuals and communities. Leverage your privilege and platform to advocate for systemic change. Seek guidance and consent when engaging with Indigenous cultural knowledge. Challenge your own biases and support First Nations businesses.

 

Glenn: Be active in the face of reconciliation, challenge the status quo and be willing to speak up no matter how uncomfortable. This may be the case when having conversations around the ‘yes’ vote and the Voice to Parliament.

 

What is one thing people should know about reconciliation in Australia?

 

Ken: Of the 18 targets to ‘Close the Gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, two are on track and 16 are not. Tragically the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children being cared for out-of-home and rates of suicide is increasing. In a just, equitable and reconciled Australia, First Nations children will have the same chances and choices as other Australian children.

 

Glenn: The housing crisis in remote and marginalised communities is a serious issue. In a reconciled Australia housing opportunity will be equal. We need to be aware of all the issues that exist and that we still have significant work to do in order to achieve equality.​

 

Tenielle: Reconciliation is not a one-time event or quick fix. It requires ongoing dedication to dismantling systemic barriers, addressing past injustices and forging genuine relationships built on trust and respect. As a nation, we need to continue these important conversations, challenge the status quo, raise awareness and foster empathy and understanding among all Australians.

 

What would a ‘yes’ vote at the referendum later this year mean to you?

 

Ken: We will have changed our nation, for the better, with a united commitment to a more just and reconciled Australia.

 

Tenielle: A significant step forward in empowering Indigenous Australians to address the ongoing issues facing their communities. By giving First Nations people a real and practical say in decision-making processes, we can begin to close the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, particularly in areas such as life expectancy, education and employment.

 

National Reconciliation Week: 27 May – 3 June

 

These dates commemorate two important milestones in the reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

 

27 May 1967: Australia saw its most successful referendum, with more than 90 per cent of Australians voting to give the Australian Government the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and count them in the census.

 

3 June 1992: The Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision. This was the culmination of Eddie Koiki Mabo’s challenge to the legal fiction of ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one) and led to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands. This decision paved the way for Native Title.

 

At ANZ, our vision for reconciliation is a unified Australia around a shared history, celebrating and honouring the unique contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In conjunction with our Reconciliation Action Plan, we have a Reconciliation Network, led by employees passionate about reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia, providing a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their allies.

 

Amy Haughton is Reconciliation Action Plan Program Manager at ANZ

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