National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated annually from 27 May to 3 June. These dates mark two milestones in Australia's reconciliation journey - anniversaries of the 1967 Referendum and the historic Mabo decision.
We're proud to share the experiences of Qantas staff and partners on Australia's reconciliation journey.
Natasha Dargan, QLink Flight Attendant, Qantas
"I'm a 21-year-old Gumbaynggirr woman from Western Sydney and reconciliation is important to me because I feel like I'm part of something bigger. Our history is a painful one - and I acknowledge all the hard work that's been done to close the gap on a lot of issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As a nation we should be concentrating on issues that change Indigenous lives, like affordable housing, sustainable employment and education opportunities.
I'm very proud to work for a company that's committed to building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It's something that's very special to me. The Reconciliation Action Plan [a framework for Qantas to realise its vision for reconciliation] is great and I've had the opportunity to contribute to it many times.
I've had the opportunity to experience many reconciliation successes at Qantas but one of my favourites was attending the launch of the Recognise livery reveal - Recognise is a campaign that [aims to recognise] Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in the Constitution and the livery is displayed on a QantasLink Dash 8-Q400. I fly that every day so it's something I hold really special to my heart."
Jasmin Sheppard, Bangarra Dance Theatre
"We're having quite a lot of issues in Australia at the moment, not just with Indigenous people but with people from other minority groups, and the reason is the foundation that was laid with how First Peoples were treated so long ago. That's really been the seed of how Australia has grown up. Reconciliation is an important way to have a look at those relationships and find out how we can make them better.
In New Zealand, the relationship between First Nation peoples and white New Zealanders is somewhat more integrated and I think that goes right back to the treaty they had when the settlers first arrived. For Australia, a treaty would be a really amazing way to demonstrate to the First Nations people here that we're really important and that things weren't done the right way back then and there's a way to remedy that. But to achieve reconciliation it's also up to individuals to make relationships, finding that really raw human-to-human experience that we all can share.
I grew up in Melbourne but I was born in Brisbane. My nanna came from Normanton and Croydon in the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is Kurtijar and Tagalaka country. My mum is half Irish, half Russian Jew. My dad is also Welsh and Chinese. My Indigenous culture is a huge part of who I am."
Mitch Clark, Second Officer, Boeing 747, Qantas
"Growing up, my only real contact with Indigenous culture was what I was taught in school and what was in the newspaper. Then about two years ago I went to the Kimberley on a Qantas Indigenous secondment program. It's a totally different world up there. Not better, not worse, just totally different. The things the Indigenous community want to achieve are just amazing. They're trying to achieve those things but the support and the infrastructure that we all take for granted aren't there.
It's not our place to tell Indigenous communities how to live and how to do things. They need support to do what they want to do, empowering them to do it themselves. It's about walking alongside someone and helping them get there. If we don't, we're going to lose an amazing culture in Australia, one we don't know enough about.
I look across the pond at New Zealand and see how strong their Indigenous culture is in day-to-day life, from their schools to their national anthem, even their rugby team. In Australia it's tacked onto the side and that's not right. It's part of our nation's heritage. We've got people who've been around for thousands of years before us, yet Indigenous people in Australia can feel like they don't belong. The big gestures are important; we've got to make Indigenous people feel equal and if that means amending the Constitution, let's just get on with it. But it's the little day-to-day things like saying, 'I'm here to help' that will make reconciliation real and meaningful."
Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas
"I think it's really important that Qantas as the national carrier does everything it can to advance reconciliation. Part of that is being involved in the campaign for constitutional change. I was proud to announce Qantas' support for Recognise in 2014 and it's been great to see such a robust discussion about what reform should look like. Ultimately, that's what's going to give a referendum the best chance of success.
One significant way Qantas can help build a stronger future for Indigenous Australians is by creating economic opportunities. Whether it's through jobs, buying products or showcasing Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islands culture, the scale of our business means we have the ability to make a real difference. We want to help talented young Indigenous people reach their potential and become leaders in their communities.
I was once asked by a teenage girl from an Indigenous background whether she thought someone like her could ever become CEO of Qantas. I said absolutely she could, and I genuinely believe that. We already have fantastic Indigenous employees making their mark across our business. Over the next few years, we'll be creating another 200 Indigenous internships. I've got no doubt there'll be some future leaders of Qantas in that group, maybe even a future chief executive."
Jen Delves, Head of People Services, Qantas
"For me the importance of reconciliation starts with my own core values: inclusion and honesty and fairness and respect. They're the things that drive me personally and they're the very same things we're trying to achieve through reconciliation.
Reconciliation is an equal partnership. It's Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians standing together, staring into the face of the wrongs of the past, working together to overcome the disadvantages that we see right across health and education, and addressing the deep prejudice that still exists in our culture. The treatment of [former AFL player] Adam Goodes was a big wake-up call about how much more work we need to do around the culture and attitudes of all Australians.
I was part of the very small team that started up our Indigenous careers program eight or nine years ago. It took a huge amount of resilience from a small number of passionate people to get started. The resistance we faced back then was based on fear and ignorance but we kept chipping away. Today we're a corporate leader and seeing kids come through our pipeline from school and university - inspiring their siblings and communities along the way - is incredibly satisfying. Our employment program goes to the heart of social equality."
Herb Smith, Founder of Dreamtime Tuka and Lisa Brock, Chief Procurement Officer, Qantas
"I was born in Wellington, in the Central West of NSW. I'm a very proud Wiradjuri man. I was a career police officer for 32 years then ran government programs in Sydney and in Wellington before eventually moving into the business world. The cultural aspect was very much part of the foundation for the company and it's been fantastic to share my Indigenous culture and heritage through food with people from Australia and across the world.
Reconciliation for me as an Aboriginal person has elements of truth, justice, healing, forgiveness, reparation and even love. Two moments that are very significant, setting the foundation towards what we know today as the reconciliation process, are the 1967 referendum regarding Aboriginal rights and the 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations. The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said, 'Unless the great symbolism of reconciliation is accompanied by an even greater substance, it is little more than a clanging gong' and I think that's extremely important.
This year we mark a lot of important milestones in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Australian government, including 50 years since the referendum. It's important for Aboriginal people to look back into the past but it is equally important to look forward to the future. I've been around for a long time. I'm now referred to in my own community as an Aboriginal Elder. As part of taking on the responsibilities of an elder, it's important to work together to improve relationships and close that gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in health, living standards, employment, life expectancy and also, importantly, prejudice and racism. Anything I can do to assist that, I will always do it."
Lisa Brock: "Being the national airline means we have a unique opportunity to showcase Indigenous culture and products in flight and elsewhere - and our customers love it. As Chief Procurement Officer, I am looking out for Indigenous businesses, like Herb's, who can supply to Qantas. The Indigenous business sector is growing so quickly; there is so much opportunity. Supply Nation has been a great way for us to connect with Indigenous businesses."
Casey Miller, Corporate Communications, Qantas
"I'm from Tamworth and my people are the Gamilaraay people. When my father grew up, even though everyone in the town knew they were Indigenous, his mother to the day she died counted herself as a white woman so that her children weren't taken away.
My father never really talked about his Aboriginality to anyone outside the family. My generation wasn't forbidden to talk about it like he was when he was younger but my siblings and I don't know much about our culture - although I can speak my language, for the most part. But I feel it would be a great step when I have my children for them to be able to know their culture and share it with people.
The 1967 referendum was very important in the reconciliation journey because the majority of the Australian population voted 'yes' to recognising Indigenous people. Now I'd like to see a different education in schools. When you're younger, you're more open to learning new things. There are a lot of schools out there doing Aboriginal studies but it would be good if schools were to do classes more specific to the area they were in - Gamilaraay studies, for instance - so you can learn about the people around you, not just the greater story that needs to be told."
Brooke Dwyer and Luke Booth, Indigenous Careers Team, Capability and Programs, Qantas
Brooke Dwyer, Capability and Programs manager, Qantas
"I'm a mother - I've got two boys - and the way I approach reconciliation with people who don't understand its importance is the same as with any social-inequality issue: how would you feel if it was your child being discriminated against, based on their background or the colour of their hair or the fact that they wear glasses or whatever it might be? There are no two people in this world who are exactly the same so why is it not okay to be different? It's about providing a level playing field with equal opportunity for everyone.
At Qantas, we take a strong stance on social issues such as marriage equality and Indigenous affairs. It's part of our responsibility. We are the national carrier; we have a huge footprint across the country and a huge footprint in regional Australia, which is where a lot of our Indigenous populations are. True reconciliation means accepting each other's background and heritage and culture and respecting that everybody has a different story and everybody brings different things to the table; that's the beautiful part about having a truly diverse society."
Luke Booth, Indigenous Engagement Adviser, Qantas
"I identify as an Aboriginal man but some people may be surprised to learn my father is Irish. He is very proud that I acknowledge my Irish heritage and even more so my Aboriginality. That's a perfect example of reconciliation and why it's important to me - acknowledging and respecting other cultures and their differences. I'm from the Warramungu people north-east of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and the Yuggera people south-west of Brisbane. My partner is Ngarrindjeri from Adelaide and around the Coorong so our five children have that diversity, too.
I'm highly passionate and committed to changing the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly through education, training and employment. My children are the big reason why I do what I do. If I can create a culturally safe and participatory environment for not just my children but other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to grow and prosper and come together with other cultures equally passionate about and committed to reconciliation, that would be the ultimate goal.
The national apology - when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this country were acknowledged and honoured as the oldest continuing cultures in history - was the first huge step towards reconciliation. Apologising for past mistreatments and promising a future based on mutual respect, resolution and responsibility was a milestone. We've come a long way but Australia needs to do more to recognise our First Nations people. The biggest step towards that would be to put an end to the exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Australian Constitution and to negate the racial discrimination in the Constitution in order to foster a robust future together."