OPINION

Taking action towards reconciliation

Taking action towards reconciliation

Although I live every day with the thoughts and memories of my people being mistreated, reconciliation is important to me.

This Reconciliation Week I will reflect, acknowledge, seek strength and guidance from Elders past, present and emerging.

I will reflect on how far we have come as First Nations people and as the country Australia.

We still have a long way to go. Some days it feels like the journey has just begun.

The pain and trauma of the 1905 Act and the Stolen Generations lives within us daily.

I live with the memories of my mother and grandmother being forcibly removed from their loved ones, communities and heritage because of their race and culture.

Many of my people express this pain in anger and frustration.

Through our work at Curtin University's Centre for Aboriginal Studies, we channel our hurt to teach others about the past and try to be inspirations for strength and resilience.

This is why I value this week of reconciliation.

But much more needs to be done, and I hope people across Australia recognise that it's not only the right thing to do, but it is also reasonable and fair.

During Reconciliation Week there is a heightened awareness of the pain and trauma inflicted upon my loved ones, my people and community.

Many forget this trauma is still fresh and occurred during my lifetime.

I recall multiple attempts of the authorities to take me away from home, to steal my life by taking me away from my mother, father, brothers and sisters.

We had to be vigilant day and night, year after year.

Reconciliation gives me hope that this will never happen again.

This hope is reinforced by working at an organisation that strives to meet and exceed the requirements for an elevated reconciliation action plan and tries to work hand-in-hand with Aboriginal people to find ways forward.

A joy I feel at this time of year is the opportunity to share my lived experiences with non-Indigenous people and hear their hopes and stories of reconciliation.

I especially welcome the opportunity to meet and share knowledge with people unfamiliar with our history, culture and customs.

I appreciate the empathy, caring and support when I share the challenges and trauma we live with.

During this week, I sense there is more of a willingness to meet me and my people halfway.

But while I welcome reconciliation wholeheartedly, it is the responsibility of those that have oppressed to extend a hand, not the role of my people who have been oppressed, denied justice and vilified.

Reconciliation is more than a word, it requires action.

We do not want to feel neglected, but we do.

We do not want to be denied respect, fairness, a voice or the simple pleasure of being an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

We long to share the rich knowledge and benefits of being connected to our land, to our culture and spirit.

Being able to be me, to be understood, heard and appreciated helps advance reconciliation, not only for me but for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There is still much work to be done.

The work is hard but we are up for the challenge.

There is a role for everyone. Take action.

Professor Marion Kickett, Curtin University

This story Taking action towards reconciliation first appeared on The Canberra Times.