It’s over twelve months since the Australian nation passed an important milestone – the beginning of a process of reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a formal act of apology for the government’s role in formulating and pursuing policies that led to the phenomenon of the Stolen Generations. Prime Minister Rudd’s words of “sorry” rode the waves of the former government’s “acts of intervention” which continue to return a patchwork of results, depending on the degree of consultation taking place with indigenous leaders and members of the affected communities.
All of this forms a background for a project that myself and others have engaged in – “Listening Journeys.” We realised that if we were ever to understand the pain and trauma of generations of loss of culture, language and kinship ties and how this affected descendants of those who lived under a systemic oppression, we needed to guard against involving ourselves with an albeit compassionate knee-jerk “fix-it” agenda and engage in careful respectful listening instead. We have spent the last eighteen months deliberating on how this might best be done and are honestly still looking for some answers.
Today I pack my swag to join four others for a short flying trip to the Kimberley region in the North West of this state, hopefully to engage with some Aboriginal communities. One might ask what such a short visit can hope to achieve. My hope is that I can return with some perspective and a way of speaking not so much with knowledge, but with understanding, of some ways people like me can contribute to walking the road of reconciliation together.
So I’ll be incommunicado for about a week. Here’s hoping the next post will share some experiences and that sought out perspective.