Walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

A statement from Australian Red Cross. Changing thoughts, beliefs and actions starts by telling the truth. This is ours.

While Australian Red Cross has been supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders for decades, we could have done more. We could have done more to better engage and include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We could have done more to address systemic discrimination and disadvantage over generations. And we could have done more to lead in applying our values.

This is Australian Red Cross history that we must own and come to terms with.

Australian Red Cross makes this statement as we unequivocally reject hate, racism, violence and bigotry of any kind.

In recent years, we have taken conscious and active steps to change. We make mistakes and are still learning. We are hugely indebted for the guidance from Red Cross First Nations’ staff, members, volunteers, clients and partners and to our National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team.

Thank you for your patience, guidance and wisdom. Thank you for your generosity and openness, despite at times suffering yourselves from prejudice and discrimination.

As Red Cross we must always live by our Seven Fundamental Principles to their complete and true sense: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality. These principles are at the very core of our mission to prevent and alleviate suffering. We remain committed to our stretch Reconciliation Action Plan and have re-affirmed our commitment to walk alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

While the current focus is on deaths in custody and destruction of ancient and sacred sites, the weight of ongoing prejudice and discrimination inherent in many of the power and authority structures, systems and institutions throughout Australian society, still exists and diminishes us all.

It is time for Australia to change. It is time to face the unacceptable and stop it. It is time for each and all of us, as individuals, organisations, systems, structures of all types, and communities across Australia to conscientiously, actively and purposefully change for the better. If we do not, we will be judged by future generations as another generation that not only failed to end the unacceptable, but willingly did so.

As Red Cross, we will play our role in dismantling the ongoing effects of systemic racism and cultural ignorance. And we will reach out with empathy to those who’ve been impacted by racism or discrimination, promote human dignity and work harder to build an equitable Australia.

We will continue our own efforts towards true reconciliation, to create safe spaces, to constantly challenge ourselves.

To always look in the mirror. To do better. To be better.

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