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Home > News > 2017 > May > Time for the ‘next steps’ this National Reconciliation Week

Time for the ‘next steps’ this National Reconciliation Week


Our union's commitment to activities which support and encourage strong, positive interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Australians from other cultural backgrounds will be reaffirmed as part of  National Reconciliation Week (NRW) from 27 May – 3 June 2017.

The theme of this year's event “Let’s Take the Next Steps” encourages all Australians to be part of the next big steps in our nation’s reconciliation journey and for IEUA-QNT members this means that our commitment to reconciliation is not just in the course of our own day-to-day operations, but also in the wider community.

Branch Secretary Terry Burke said as part of our union’s own commitment to reconciliation, the IEUA-QNT Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) had been implemented in 2016. 

"Our union’s RAP operates at the Innovate level in accordance with Reconciliation Australia guidelines, joining together with a large collective of organisations that have turned their good intentions into a framework for action," Mr Burke said.

"An Innovate RAP is for organisations that have developed relationships with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and are ready to develop or implement programs for cultural learning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and supplier diversity," he said.

Our union’s commitment to reconciliation

Our union’s RAP details significant events and actions, including: increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representatives on union bodies; celebrating NAIDOC Week each year in July; marking Close the Gap Day; acknowledging Country at meetings and events; supporting Narragunnawali Reconciliation in Schools; and increasing participation in our union’s Yarning Circle.  

Some achievements of our RAP to date include:

  • Marking Close the Gap Day in March of 2016 and 2017 and promoting the day to our members.
  • Provision of Cultural Awareness Training for all staff in July 2016 and inclusion of our RAP as part of all new staff induction material.
  • Working with Queensland Government’s Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships to facilitate linkages between local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and schools.
  • Development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Retention Strategy that sets out plans to work with stakeholders both inside and outside of our organisation to improve employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This ranges from engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to supply goods and services through to providing a vocational placement for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary student.
  • Facilitating regular Yarning Circle meetings to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to form professional networks.
  • Including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on IEUA-QNT shirts.
  • Developing a cultural protocol document for Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country.
  • Contacting organisers of NAIDOC Week events to volunteer our support and collaboration.
  • Inclusion of articles of interest to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members in IEUA-QNT publications.
  • Providing support for schools and early learning centres developing and implementing their own RAPs, though promotion of Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning initiative.
  • Passing a traditional message stick throughout our operational range in Queensland and the Northern Territory as a means of facilitating contact with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  
National Reconciliation Week

NRW is always held from 27 May – 3 June. These dates mark two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: The 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision, respectively.

In 2017 these milestones reach significant anniversaries. It is 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the historic Mabo decision.

Reconciliation Australia, which coordinates NRW, writes that “Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Reconciliation Australia has prepared specific resources that can be used in schools to promote and engage with NRW and reconciliation more broadly.

RAPs provide a practical framework, built on relationships, respect and opportunities, which allow organisations to realise their vision for reconciliation. RAPs create social change and economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Chapter activities

Chapters are asked to demonstrate our union’s support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culture and communities by marking Reconciliation Week through activities such as:

  • holding a celebratory event (e.g. a morning tea or school assembly) to be attended by school staff/students in the week of 27th May - 3rd June.
  • supporting and encouraging attendance of staff/students at local Reconciliation Week events
  • providing a photo of Chapter celebrations for Independent Voice and/or union website (photos can be emailed to communications@qieu.asn.au); 
  • members should also consider joining our union’s Yarning Circle or Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group (Contact Adele Schmidt aschmidt@qieu.asn.au).  

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.