Reconciliation and what it means to The Benevolent Society
Reconciliation is no one single issue or agenda. Based on international research and benchmarking, Reconciliation Australia defines and measures Reconciliation through five critical dimensions: race relations; equality and equity; institutional integrity; unity; and historical acceptance. Central to The Benevolent Society’s journey of walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is promoting and advancing the economic, political and social inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Our First Australians hold an important and unique place as Custodians of our land and waters and also in Australian society. In honouring this, The Benevolent Society is committed to the journey of Reconciliation.
Our vision of a fair and just society in which all Australians can live their best life is well aligned with the ambitions of Reconciliation Australia and the right to self-determination for our First Australians.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan
For The Benevolent Society to achieve genuine Reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the importance of the Reconciliation Action Plan remains the cornerstone of our organisation’s cultural barometer.
We now incorporate Reconciliation during orientation and induction for all new staff; this includes introductory training about the use of Acknowledgement of Country and protocols. Our creation of the staff award for best practice in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures that promote innovation across our work places through Reconciliation. We continue to display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, crafts, campaign promotional material, posters and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services in The Benevolent Society offices.
We have reviewed and updated our procurement policies and procedures to ensure there are no barriers for procuring goods and services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. We maintain a list of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses that can be used to procure goods and services.
We continue to support staff and communities during important events and celebrations such as NAIDOC and of course National Reconciliation Week.
In This Together
This year’s National Reconciliation Week’s theme is ‘in this together’ for me means, unity of vision. A nation united by equality and equity. This means that no one peoples is left behind, forgotten or treated as second class or labelled un-Australian because they are not considered as important as those who seek to lead in positions of power over others. 'In this together' means we are only as strong, capable and innovative as our vulnerable Australians.
Reconciliation has evolved over the last 20 years because a majority of Australians realise the importance of a strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is essential to our collective wellbeing and that of our land and waters. There have always been Australians, even at the point of the earliest colonisation, that have fought with Aboriginal people to uphold our rights and respect our knowledge and connection to country that has been passed through the millennia and generations.
What needs to be done? Ongoing, unconditional respect for country, and all living things, without this we will lose our spirit and connection to our future. We must realise now, how important it is right here right now to be in it together. Reconciliation plays an important and vital role in making this happen.
For more information on our Reconciliation Action Plan, please visit this page on our website.
Michael Currie is the Principal Advisor, Indigenous Development at The Benevolent Society