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“Our vision for reconciliation is a society that values the cultures and heritage of our First Nations Peoples, respects the land and waters, and provides justice and equity to all Australians.” Communicare Reconciliation Action Plan

As we observe National Reconciliation Week 2024, let us all take a moment to reflect deeply on our individual and collective roles in this journey. Let us commit to actions that foster true understanding, respect, and unity.

Communicare is deeply committed to working with First Nations Peoples on our reconciliation journey, to create equality for all.

Since the launch of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2018, followed by our Innovate RAP in 2021, we’ve been focussed on growing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

In 2023 we appointed Alira Kelly, formerly the Senior Executive Officer at the Langford Aboriginal Association, to the newly created role of Director Aboriginal Strategy and Capacity Building.

Her role is supported by our RAP Champions group, comprised of staff members from right across the organisation. This group takes the lead in embedding cultural awareness and knowledge within our organisation.

Earlier this year, we unveiled a new artwork we commissioned called Baalap Kep Waankiny (two people talking by the water) by artist Bennell Collard, aged 13, from Dooga Waalitj Healing. Baalap Kep Waankiny is the story of two people sitting by the side of a Bilya (River) talking about seeking support to make their Wirrin ‘spirit’ stronger and creating connections to support healing.

This new artwork has been embedded across our organisation, reflecting our unique identity and commitment to reconciliation. It adds to another First Nations artwork used over the past few years.

As an organisation, we embrace the call for fairness, inclusivity and equity for all Australians. This includes our ongoing commitment to meeting the aspirations of our Innovate RAP and supporting First Nations communities.

This week, and every week, we acknowledge and pay respect to the Aboriginal communities on whose lands and waterways we live and work, including Elders past and present, our Aboriginal colleagues, friends, and clients.

With bravery and passion, we commit to walking this path of reconciliation with open hearts and minds. We will strive to create spaces where Aboriginal voices are not only heard but are integral to shaping our shared future.

Together, we can build a future where the truth of our history is acknowledged, where the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are central, and where reconciliation is more than a goal – it is a lived reality.

This includes acknowledging the profound injustices and traumas experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – the institutionalised discrimination, the disproportionate rates of incarceration, family violence and high rates of preventable diseases.

Reconciliation must be a matter of concern for all Australian people.

Our goal must be to build an Australia where everyone belongs and where history is spoken to heal and to learn; to engage meaningfully with Aboriginal communities, to honour their experiences, and to actively support their voices and leadership.

We will hear their voices, we will listen, and we will act.


Reflections on Reconciliation

Vince Stackpole, Director ICT and Data Integrity, RAP Champion

There are some inherent issues with the concept of reconciliation.

It’s defined as ‘the act of coming to an understanding and putting an end to hostility, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce’, as well as ‘the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.

The implication is that there needs to be mutual respect and tolerance. The fact remains, that apart from when faced with extreme prejudice and violence, First Nations People have never been anything other than accepting and tolerant of us as uninvited visitors.

Any lack of acceptance or tolerance comes largely from non-indigenous Australians. For evidence of this, all you need to do is look at the commentary on social media, the privileged rhetoric from some social commentators, and the result of a referendum asking for just the simplest of structural changes to tilt the balance a tiny bit closer to Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander Australians.

Reconciliation needs to come from non-indigenous Australians.

We need to reconcile that aboriginal people are the first people of Australia, that this is the land those who preceded us and we must be respectful and far more deferential to those on whose land we live.

I will lean on Jackson Katz here, who we were privileged to hear last week sharing his decades of knowledge on the prevention of domestic abuse. In the same way that men need to take leadership on women’s safety, non-indigenous Australians need to lead on reconciliation.

Take the message on-board, spread it at every opportunity, educate people, and call out bad or intolerant behaviours and attitudes. Only then can we move toward true reconciliation.

Acknowledgement of Country

Communicare acknowledges First Nations People as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. In the spirit of Reconciliation, we acknowledge the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to culture, community, land and waterways. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations People in communities across Australia.

Reconciliation can only be achieved by fostering a better understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to develop an enriched appreciation of Australia’s true cultural heritage. This is essential to the maturity of our nation and fundamental to the development of an Australian identity based on fairness, unity and inclusion for all.

Image: Baalap Kep Waankiny, by Bennell Collard (Communicare artwork)


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