Truth-telling the key to reconciliation

Distinguished social justice and Indigenous rights advocate Mick Gooda has delivered a compelling address to BESIX Watpac head office staff in Brisbane outlining the most important steps Australians can take to achieve true reconciliation.

Mick Gooda

Invited to speak to staff in recognition of National Reconciliation Week 2021, Mick Gooda captivated the audience with his positive and practical approach to healing some of the wounds of past injustice and moving forward together as Australians.

“This is the best country in the world and we can make it even better when we sort this stuff out, that’s why reconciliation is so important,” he said.

Mick’s people are the Ghungalu and Yiman from Central Queensland and he’s spent 35 years advocating for Indigenous Australians. His experience includes a period as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, among many other distinguished roles.

So, what are the critical steps towards achieving reconciliation according to Mick Gooda?

"It’s important that we do some truth-telling about our history - that there were frontier wars in Australia – our schools don’t teach us that,” Mick said.

He gave the examples of the historic campaigns by Aboriginal people in the Blue Mountains and along the Great Dividing Range in Southern Queensland to prevent early European explorers crossing the range. He also gave examples of atrocities committed by Europeans and some by Aboriginals.

“We need to get to the point where we all acknowledge what happened, allow the wounds of those events to heal and then we can all move on together.”

“There have been some wonderful examples of where this has already happened, where family groups from both sides of an historic atrocity have come together and embraced each other in true reconciliation,” Mick said.

When asked what people can do today to help achieve reconciliation, Mick had another simple but persuasive response.

“I challenge everyone to make the effort to find out the Indigenous history of where they live, no matter where that is in Australia. The simple act or learning the Indigenous history of your block of land, your street, your property, will help to drive reconciliation - to begin the process of truth-telling.

“When we all come together to acknowledge the truth, reconcile our historic differences, eliminate injustices and celebrate our shared future as united Australians, we will have achieved true reconciliation,” Mick said.

BESIX Watpac held morning teas across the country to acknowledge Reconciliation Week and to bring renewed focus to the company’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Mick Gooda at head of table on right and BESIX Watpac's National Indigenous Affairs Manager James Alley to the left with BESIX Watpac staff

“This is the best country in the world and we can make it even better when we sort this stuff out, that’s why reconciliation is so important."

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