It's time to be more curious about our 40,000 years of history
Published on 27 May 2023
National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) asks us this year to keep up the momentum for change – and we know momentum gathers thanks to the force that keeps it moving.
At Hume City Council that force is the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group (RAPWG).
Reconciliation Week – which includes the anniversaries of the 1967 referendum and 1992 Mabo decision - is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories with Indigenous Australians to achieve reconciliation. The theme for 2023 is “Be a Voice for Generations”
For RAPWG member Tracey Evans of the Gunditjmara/Bundjalung people this is the group’s year-round goal in their work with Hume City Council.
“Through working with RAPWG Council has gone on another journey of reconciliation and active participation in reconciling with the aboriginal community.”
Established in June 2019, the RAPWG advises Council on the priorities of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and gives guidance on how they can be supported.
Tracey Evans has been with the group since its beginnings, and says she sticks with it because of how important knowledge and experience are in the momentum for change.
“I sit at the table with a lot of networks behind me and a lot of stakeholder engagements, so I bring that expertise.
“And I’ve lived in Hume for over 20 years, so it’s important for me to sit at the table and try and make a difference for my people in the city of Hume,” she says.
It’s with this backing Tracey is able to ask the important questions when meeting with decision makers.
“What’s in the best interest of the community? What are the issues? What can Council do better? How can we do better?”
Through its Reconciliation Action Plan guided by RAPWG, Hume City Council has been able to create visible initiatives including dedicated health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the Indigenous Community Garden in Westmeadows, and a range of others.
Tracey welcomes this support for her people but points out true reconciliation is achieved in our everyday lives by listening to and being an ally for our neighbours, friends and workmates.
She also points out that the racism shown towards Indigenous Australians would not be tolerated towards any other person or race.
“It’s a sad, sad situation. We need to hold a mirror up (to that behaviour) and take a good look at what’s going on. We need to dedicate time and understanding and respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to understand the culture, be a good ally and listen to what’s actually happening to my community.”
In Australia, we are home to the oldest living civilisation in the world; Tracey would like us to step up and be proud of that.
“If I lived in a country (with that history) I’d want to know. I’d want to be informed. This can be done in Hume by going along to the events, being interested in what the RAP group is doing and why we’re there, and having your own curiosity in learning about Aboriginal culture and what the issues are for our community.
“It’s being curious, it’s being open to learning, it’s being open to respect.”