• Cheek

How can I help achieve Reconciliation?

Updated: Jun 14

Reconciliation is more than a word. Reconciliation Week isn't just a week. The goal is to achieve reconciliation in Australia, and we should, and can, be working towards reconciliation all year around. Reconciliation isn't something for only First Nations people and organisations to worry about, and it's not only for governments to work on (although they have a big part to play).


Reconciliation Australia published 20 actions for reconciliation this week, and this article will give you practical tips and ideas for how to take action on three of them.



Move from Ally to Accomplice

The first action is to move from being an ally to an accomplice. If you're reading this, you're probably well aware of what it means to be an ally. But you can step it up and strive to be an accomplice to Indigenous people. Being an accomplice means you’ll stand and act with First Nations people, following their lead. An accomplice will not be afraid to disrupt the status quo when it comes to the poor treatment, negative stereotyping, and jokes at the expense of Indigenous Australians. And most importantly, an accomplice acts all year round, not just on recognised days.


What does it look like?

Being an accomplice looks like calling out racism even when it's uncomfortable and perpetrated by family and friends. An accomplice is the person who assists with organising rallies by taking a 'backstage' role like setting up equipment, distributing flyers, and doing the tasks people don't see. The most important, and defining feature of an accomplice is to amplify the voices of First Nations people instead of speaking from their own perspective. This might look like sharing important pieces of content on social media (although it's important to not let your activism stop there), or organising an event at work for a First Nations Australian to speak about Indigenous issues instead of speaking on them yourself.


Make reconciliation everyone's business

Businesses and organisations have a huge part to play in reconciliation. Every company impacts or has an overlap with First Nations issues, whether it's a newsagent, massive nonprofit, or bank. You might not have the 'power' to make huge-scale changes at work, but you might be able to start some conversations about implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).


What does it look like?

Standing up for social or political issues at work can be daunting, and a lot of younger workers in particular are nervous to bring what could be seen as controversial issues up in the workplace. The best way to go about doing this is to get one or more people on your team. Have a few conversations with colleagues and set a meeting with your manager to discuss the next steps. The best things you can do are to be prepared with facts and figures (especially if you can point to how a RAP can benefit the business). People can be very sensitive when it comes to issues of race or politics, so the best advice we can give is to try to remove emotion from the issue. Whether or not the big dogs at your work are 'good guys,' it is important that they don't feel attacked, because we know what dogs do when they feel attacked... Prepare your facts and figures, create a PowerPoint, and take it to the decision-makers like you would a business pitch.


Get your facts first-hand

This wouldn't be a Cheek article without talking about media. The Murdoch Press (a huge majority of publications in Queensland and Australia) has an agenda and loves sensationalising every piece of news they report. It's absolutely vital that we are vigilant when reading the news and understand whose agenda we're consuming. When learning about First Nations issues and perspectives, we must consume first hand information and accounts.


What does it look like?

Consume content and news produced by First Nations Australians and organsiations. Follow NITV, Koori Mail, or find your local Indigenous-run media outlet at First Nations Media. Fill your social media feed with accounts run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and, if and when you can, pay for the content so it can continue to be published!


Resources

20 actions for reconciliation. nrw.reconciliation.org.au/actions-for-reconciliation

Being an accomplice: uow.edu.au/media/2020/where-do-you-fit-tokenistic-ally--or-accomplice.php

RAP: reconciliation.org.au/reconciliation-action-plans/