May 27 marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week – a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories and cultures and explore how we can all contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
This year’s theme – More than a word. Reconciliation takes action – highlights the importance of immediate action to move towards reconciliation with Australia’s First Nations peoples.
Reconciliation is just the surface of what is needed to repay hundreds of years of violence, dispossession and oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In the workplace, reconciliation is still a long way off. Punitive programs like the Morrison Government’s Community Development Program (CDP) actively prevents Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas from accessing the same wages and working rights as city-based job seekers.
But it’s not just active Government policy preventing reconciliation at work. The Gari Yala – Speak the Truth survey found that 38% of Indigenous people feel unsafe at work because of their Indigenous background, and 44% reported hearing racial slurs at work.
These day-to-day experiences prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from participating in workplaces in the same way as non-Indigenous Australians.
If you’re a non-Indigenous Australian and want to help make reconciliation a reality in the workplace, there’s lots of ways that you can. Here are some meaningful actions to get you started.
Call out racism
Unfortunately, racism does occur in the workplace. Sometimes it can appear as everyday racism such as a joke or a comment that is not directed at an individual, sometimes it can be a targeted attack directed to one person.
If you see racism at work, call it out. If you’re unsure how to do this, check out this guide to responding to racism.
Create a culturally safe workplace
But beyond the law, we can all do more to make our workplaces a more welcoming and safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This week, take action to learn more about creating a culturally safe workplace.
Start a Reconciliation Action Plan
The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement.
A RAP is a strategic document that includes practical actions your workplace can take to contribute to reconciliation both internally and in the community.
Take action by registering interest in the RAP program
Join the First Nations Workers Alliance
The First Nations Workers Alliance (FNWA) was created to provide a voice for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CDP workers. They have just won their four year campaign to end the punitive and racist CDP, but now has the task to ensure government doesn’t replace the CDP with another harmful program.
Right now, the FNWA are taking up the fight against schemes like the CDP. You can join them by taking up a non-Indigenous FNWA membership.
The First Nations Workers’ Alliance successfully campaigned to stop the CDP by 2023, but there’s still a long way to go. Will you join us?