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Diabetes Victoria Blog

Join the discussion in our blog where a variety of writers from all walks of life take a stance on current diabetes issues.

National Reconciliation Week 2020 Reflection

Written by Natalie Arambasic,
National Reconciliation Week is about reflecting on the roles that we play as individuals and as organisations in moving towards reconciliation.  In This Together, highlights that we all have a responsibility to learn about Australia’s past and the mistreatment of Aboriginal people. It is about learning how we can work together in a way that respects and acknowledges the past trauma but also enhances self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. National Reconciliation Week at Diabetes Victoria looked a bit different this year with many staff working from home. We were able to raise awareness through emails, guest speakers and participating in RunRona.
We held a virtual morning tea for staff with two guest speakers, Tracey Evans a Gunditjamara/Bundjalung woman, a First Nations and Traditional Owner and Lena Charles, a Yorta Yorta/Gunai Kurnai woman.   Tracey and Lena spoke to us about what reconciliation meant to them and how we could strengthen our relationships with Aboriginal communities.
Tracey is one of nine Executive Director’s on the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria and elected Assembly Member for the Melbourne Metropolitan Region. Tracey spoke about the importance of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and how this provides an elected voice for Aboriginal communities, Elders and Traditional Owners in future treaty discussions. Tracey said that it was also important for us to follow the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria’s Facebook Page as this is where we can be kept updated with treaty discussions. She also mentioned that we should approach Aboriginal community members with a clear mind, purpose and always ask community how and if they would like to be consulted when we are making decisions around our Aboriginal program and events.
Lena spoke about what reconciliation week meant to her, and how we should walk alongside Aboriginal communities rather than working for Aboriginal communities. Lena spoke about the importance of bringing a cultural lens to our existing programs and utilising the knowledge and skills of Aboriginal people to empower community. Both Tracey and Lena referred to the importance of self-determination and returning power back to Aboriginal communities.
We encouraged staff to participate in RunRona, a virtual run or walk, that was held over the weekend of 30-31 May. 22 staff ran or walked their way around some scenic Victorian locations including the Tan, Albert Park Lake and Queenscliff. RunRona provided staff with the opportunity to be active, reflect on what National Reconciliation Week meant for them whilst directly supporting Aboriginal-led social enterprise, Spark Health in delivering health promotion programs to Aboriginal communities.

I am honoured to work in a workplace that values staff learning about our past histories and how we can better support, empower and campaign for Aboriginal communities in Victoria. National Reconciliation Week allows me to reflect on the work that we do at Diabetes Victoria and how reconciliation is everybody’s business, this was evident due to the participation in RunRona and the morning tea. National Reconciliation Week also highlights that there is still so much to learn about our past and how we can do better as non-Indigenous allies in the community. For me this is an ongoing process that goes beyond National Reconciliation Week. It is an ongoing process of learning, feeling vulnerable and listening to the experiences of the Aboriginal communities that we work with.

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