WAGEC Celebrates Reconciliation Action

By Helen Silvia

Published on June 27, 2019

Dear Friends,

WAGEC is celebrating Reconciliation Action and the endorsement of our Reconciliation Action Plan. 

National reconciliation Week commenced on Sunday 26th May, National Sorry Day and runs until the 3rd June.

This year’s theme; Grounded in Truth Walk Together with Courage is a call to action, for a comprehensive process of truth-telling about Australia’s colonial history. Our nation’s past is reflected in the present, and will continue to play out in future unless we heal historical wounds.

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.

So, whether you’re engaging in challenging conversations or unlearning and relearning what you know, this journey requires all of us to walk together with courage. This National Reconciliation Week, we invite Australians from all backgrounds to contribute to our national movement towards a unified future.

This, and more information can be found here; https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/

We, WAGEC, call for a comprehensive process of truth telling about Australia’s colonial history.

WAGEC is committed to deepening our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culture. We acknowledge the strength and resilience of the world’s longest continuous culture, in the face of the devastating impacts of colonialization and government endorsed genocide.

Throughout 2018 WAGEC formed a Reconciliation Acton Plan committee and set about a journey of developing our own Reconciliation Action plan (RAP), with the guidance of Reconciliation Australia. I am so very proud to say that our reconciliation Action Plan was endorsed by Reconciliation early this year and we will soon be able to launch our plan.

WAGEC’s vision for reconciliation is deeply connected to our work in the space of women’s homelessness and domestic violence.  We recognise that there is an over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who access our service, and other homelessness and domestic violence services, and many more women, children and families who are affected by these issues.  We view this over-representation as a symptom of colonialization, structural disadvantage, discrimination and institutional racism that our First Nations women face. We do not underestimate the impacts of intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, however we equally recognise the enduring perseverance, resilience and strength of the world’s oldest continuing culture to survive, and thrive despite this.

 

WAGEC recognises that Redfern is a place of significance to the Aboriginal community, as a site of civil rights and political action, as a strong, resilient and dynamic community and as a home to many families.  As a mainstream service it is our responsibility to learn and grow in our knowledge of and connection to Redfern as well as the locations of other WAGEC sites. We will do this by reaching out to the community to build awareness about how we can continue to make our services culturally appropriate and inclusive. 

 

In the coming weeks there will be a “roadshow” to share our Reconciliation Action Plan with all staff and a celebratory launch of our plan at Redfern with our fellow colleagues, allies and friends. Details to come.

 

Reconciliation, and WAGEC’s plan is not a short journey, nor is it linear. But it is one that WAGEC is deeply and genuinely committed now and for the future.

 

My sincere thanks to everyone on the committee who shared their time and wisdom, in particular to Katie and Fiona who were the driving forces behind its development;

Katie Young (project coordinator)

Fiona Murry (convenor)

Holly Seghabi (Aboriginal staff rep)

Simone Oliver-Smith (staff rep)

Gabrielle Martinovich (Board rep)

Frances Atkins (Board rep)

Morgan Bennett (newly appointed convenor)

 

In the words of the Grandmother’s Against Removal, “Sorry means you do not do it again”.

 

Always was. Always will be, Aboriginal land.  

 

Yours sincerely,

Helen Silvia 

Chief Executive Officer