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The next steps to reconciliation

Reconciliation begins with learning the truth about who we are. This week, Red Cross asks all Australians to be part of the next big steps in our nation's reconciliation journey.

Reconciliation begins with learning the truth about who we are. This week, Red Cross asks all Australians to be part of the next big steps in our nation's reconciliation journey.

FRIDAY MAY 26, 2017

Residents at our Kalano Flexible Care facility. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera

Residents at our Kalano Flexible Care facility. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Dilini Perera

Reconciliation Week 2017 starts and ends with two significant anniversaries in Australian history.

Saturday 27 May marks 50 years since the 1967 referendum, which saw over 90 per cent of Australian vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.

For the first time since colonisation, Australia's First Nation peoples were counted as citizens. Fifty years later, we remember all those who never gave up the fight to be counted.  

The week ends on 3 June, which this years marks 25 years since the High Court of Australia delivered its landmark Mabo decision, which legally recognised the special relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with the land - one which existed prior to colonisation and still exists today.

Jimmy Kyle, a proud Thungutti Man and Red Cross Engagement Officer.Jimmy Kyle, a proud Thungutti Man and Red Cross Engagement Officer.

Reconciliation and Red Cross

Reconciliation is a priority for Red Cross, which we demonstrate through our Reconciliation Action Plan

As part of this plan, Red Cross people learn about our country's history: the richness, knowledge and diversity of Aboriginal culture; the history of dispossession, slavery and massacre that followed colonisation; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' long struggle to survive, to have their history and relationship to the land recognised.  

Thungutti man Jimmy Kyle often leads the training sessions. As he explains: "Reconciliation for me isn't between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It's between non-Indigenous people and the truth. 

"White Australia needs to know itself and what it's got. It needs to sit with the truth for a while. That's the first step. And when that happens, we can talk about taking the next steps." 

Red Cross people are encouraged to think about what reconciliation means to each of us, and how we can make it real: whether by actively engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our workforce, and working under the leadership of Indigenous communities to design programs; or simply by seeking opportunities to listen, learn and connect.  

When we do, we discover ourselves. Yohan De Mel, a case worker in our Migration Support Program, took this from a recent training session: "Reconciliation is a chance for all Australians to collectively be a part of this great land. To recognise the negative myths about Aboriginal people and to understand the truth about their rich culture and spirituality.  

"Reconciliation should be an integral part of our consciousness."  

Read our Reconciliation Action Plan.

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