Reconciliation as defined by Oxford Learners Dictionary,
reconciliation (noun)(between A and B) | reconciliation (with somebody) an end to a disagreement and the start of a good relationship again
“Their change of policy brought about a reconciliation with Britain.”
reconciliation (between A and B) | reconciliation (with something) the process of making it possible for two different ideas, facts, etc. to exist together without being opposed to each other
“the reconciliation between environment and development”
I don’t think the Dictionary does the word complete justice. If we’re to take the dogmatic view from the dictionary, the process of closing the gap and reconciliation becomes a cold, lengthy and political process.
See our calendar of events for an overview of significant dates, you will be able to gain a systematic overview of apologies and key events which outlines the relationship with the First Nations peoples and the Australian Government since 1788.
I’ve heard it said by a Black American Leader that,
“Reconciliation or conciliation requires defrauded parties to be made whole. Not just apologising for the offense”
Now we aren’t going to go into the politics of it all, however, we will note that the above quote depicts where Australia is at. Apologies from Government have been extended this is in regards to particular atrocities of times past, but there is still a lot of things coming to the surface.
These can be found in the work of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Bruce Elder’s Blood on the Wattle, Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth and there are many more to come.
As the relationship ages, new roadblocks, challenges and old wounds discovered may occur. Due to the fact, the Aboriginal people never had “the good old days” with the British colonisers. There is no reference point to drawback to, therefore this is uncharted territory and like any relationship, should be a reason to be hopeful and excited for a shared future.
It Takes Time
Just like two people reconciling a relationship with the hope of restoring the friendship or marriage, it takes time, mental energy, resources and unreserved commitment from both parties.
With both organisations, with separate DNA and processes, it is detrimental to both parties to outline timeframes, expectations and the reality of doing business together. It saves the Indigenous business owner a lot of time and heartache, and the corporate/gov organisation resource in unnecessary meetings or worse a contract falling apart. This is best done over a yarn with no more than two people meeting the Indigenous business representative.
What Does it Look Like?
To protect the IP of the businesses we’ve used generic names to share the success story.
In 20** John Smith was contracted on a large state infrastructure project, this project spanned over 8 years, with John contracted for the duration of the entire project. The Tier 1 in charge of the part of the project employed John, who expressed his Indigenous heritage.
The Tier 1, wanting to see more diversity across the site leadership offered John, who already was a proven Foreman, a role as a site supervisor. After a year of two in the role, Tier 1 contractor was extremely pleased with John and identified that he had serious talent.
After a couple of conversations with Social Procurement who were in desperate need of Indigenous Business involvement, Tier 1 Contractor risked losing a great employee, in order to acquire a great business in their supply chain.
With the initial business support, John’s Contracting business was given small contracts to start his newly found enterprise. After some highs and lows on the particular project, John was able to take his IP and proven capability, high more Indigenous staff, double turnover and find additional work from other Tier 1’s.
John has now set out on his own, bidding on government and private work himself. He still has a great relationship with that original Teir 1 and goes out of his way to service them, whenever they need a specialist contractor, who also is an Indigenous Business.
Where Do I Start?
The best place to start is internally, ask your organisation if you have a Reconciliation Action Plan. A Reconciliation Action Plan or RAP is a practical template for your organisation to engage with the wider Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Community. Each organisations RAP’s will be different, and targets can be set by organisation.
For example, construction companies may focus on Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Business Procurement via their large and extensive supply chains.
As opposed to a consultancy company looking to get their executives to participate in cultural spiritual experiences, to contribute towards cultural training/immersion.
Both examples can contribute to a successful progression of a Reconciliation Action Plan, both examples are Reconciliation in Action.
At Kinaway Chamber of Commerce, we have an extensive and diverse database of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Businesses, so let’s put the Action in Reconciliation Action Plan.