Today marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week – a week-long celebration of our Indigenous history and culture. It’s a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
This year’s theme is ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together in Courage’, which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples calling for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history.
Today, 80 per cent of Australians believe it is important to undertake formal truth telling processes, according to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.
For its part, Wood & Grieve Engineers, now part of Stantec (WGE) is encouraging our community to participate in whatever they can to foster positive relationships and develop a shared understanding with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“However, a big part of that is recognising the whole story. By understanding the impact past injustices had, and continue to have, on the Indigenous community is essential to the reconciliation process. Only then can we learn from the experiences and work to improve our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.”
As an active member of WGE’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group, Vivienne says the organisation has been incredibly supportive in initiatives that not only educate staff, but also develop relationships with Indigenous communities.
“WGE’s RAP is in its third year and it’s been a really fulfilling opportunity to be involved. We’ve looked into ways to actively engage the Indigenous community on various projects, such as the Rottnest Seawall Redevelopment,” Vivenne said.
“On a personal note, I had the opportunity to travel out to Coolgardie in WA’s wheatbelt region to meet and mentor young students, many of whom were from an Indigenous background. Mentoring is a really rewarding part of my job, and I was thrilled to work with these young students just discovering their love of engineering.
“Following our merger with Stantec, WGE now has access to global resources regarding Indigenous relations. That kind of support spurs our motivation to continue to celebrate and engage a broad diversity of cultures from all around the world.”
Director and Melbourne Office Manager Grant Holman was one of thousands who participated in The Long Walk in 2018. Inspired by former Essendon Football Club great Michael Long, The Long Walk encourages people to walk from Federation Square to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievements.
“The Long Walk was a really great experience, and one that I would recommend to everyone,” Grant said.
“It was really inspiring to walk alongside people from all backgrounds and ethnicity, all in support of our Indigenous community. What was really encouraging is there was people of all ages too – babies in strollers to older generations. It just shows that there is strong support for reconciliation in our community.”
To Grant, Walk Together in Courage means more than just believing in something. It’s about stepping up and showing your support for others to see and, hopefully, be inspired to get involved as well.
“I think it’s really important to show support for causes that you believe in,” Grant said.
“There are lots of people who might agree reconciliation is the right thing to do, but having the courage to show your support by turning up to rallies or events – like The Long Walk – is important. It’s important to inspire people in your community to also step up and show their support, but it’s also important to show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that we stand alongside them.”