What it means to us: Reconciliation

28 May 2020
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To mark this year’s National Reconciliation Week, the theme of which is In This Together, we asked members of the local Aboriginal community, as well as members of our staff to share with us what reconciliation means to them and how they have been involved in the centre’s journey to its first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

Marsha Uppill

Adnyamathanha Woman, Storyteller, Director/Co-Founder of Arranyiha Pty Ltd.

"I pay my respects to Wadawurrung, original owners and continued custodians of the land on which I live, learn, work and play.

I pay homage to my elders of the Adnyamathanha Nation in the Flinders Ranges region of South Australia, for teaching me, loving me and for my identity.

The 2020 National Reconciliation Week theme “In this Together” means inclusion and responsibility - they go hand in hand.

It’s a call to all Australians to be part of the change to reconcile the past wrongs.

Having been directly impacted by these past wrongs, I have made the decision to turn my pain into purposeful change.

I am already in “this”. The question is, are you “in this” too? Are we “in this together”?

Are we in this together for our yesterdays, our today and for our future?

The way forward is together. You take your steps, and I will take mine.

Together we will make the change."

Kylie Clarke

Gunditjmara, Wotobaluk & Ngarrindjeri, Aboriginal Community Engagement Coordinator, Geelong Arts Centre

"I’m feeling that this year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week - In This Together brings so much energy; capturing the essence of what reconciliation truly represents and encouraging us all to take action.

It invites Australians to reflect on what responsibility they hold, inspiring the question: ‘what conversations can I have and what contributions can I make?’

Engaging in conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, having the curiosity to learn, being present, acknowledging the injustices, accepting the truth, speaking truth and calling it out in uncomfortable situations. To right the wrongs and committing to the journey ahead with First Peoples in the forefront of minds and at the centre of hearts.

We’ve come a long way since the symbolic Walk for Reconciliation across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the journey 20 years later continues… a shared journey with a shared vision, a shared responsibility and with shared voices - In This Together."

Joel McGuinness

Chief Executive Officer, Geelong Arts Centre

"I am in awe of 65,000+ years of lived culture in Australia by our First Nations Peoples and pay my respects to the Wadawurrung and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

My desire is to ensure that Geelong Arts Centre lives and creates connection to Aboriginal Peoples, cultures, stories and arts is from a genuine belief that we have a lot to learn about respect for our Country, its culture and for each other through our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

I want all people to feel welcome and at home at our Centre and hope that through working together with our local First Peoples that we can celebrate arts and culture together into the future and find ways to keep telling great stories here in Geelong and the region."

Kate Cartlidge

Human Resources Manager, Geelong Arts Centre

"My role in Human Resources involves embedding workplace practices that create a culture of respect for diversity and offer equal opportunities for inclusion. The recent Reconciliation Action Plan contributes to this by creating stronger relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who both work & visit Geelong Arts Centre.

In the Reconciliation Action Plan project team, we have heard stories from Traditional Custodians, local community and First Peoples of their long history here. These yarns have given me a much greater appreciation for First Peoples’ ongoing connection to this land.

I am more mindful of my responsibility to walk with respect and gentleness alongside all First Peoples with whom I share the vision for reconciliation. I am very thankful to all who have given their time and for the opportunity to participate in our Reconciliation Action Plan’s development."

Emily Donoghue

Associate Producer/Project Officer, Geelong Arts Centre

"To me personally, reconciliation is about educating myself and considering how I can contribute to making our workplace and our community more inclusive and welcoming for First Nations Peoples.

Truthfully, until I arrived at the arts centre, I had very little knowledge or true understanding of just how far we have to go as a nation on our journey to reconciliation. So, education was and remains key for me.

I am grateful to have amazing teachers in my colleagues Kylie Clarke and Kelly Clifford, who not only share their knowledge and passion, but also motivate me to be active in this space because of the amazing example they set.

Within the Creative Learning program, a focus on reconciliation will mean that the young people who experience our programs get the chance to learn and explore how they can contribute in their own way.

So, for me, reconciliation is about educating myself in how I can make a difference, and then providing a platform where First Nations voices are represented and shared with the next generation."