I’ve been chewing over what I should be saying at this time for a while now. I’ve always felt that silence in the face of injustice will be read as a lack of support for the cause of those who are raising their voices asking for change. I’ve struggled with concern that my voice might be seen as trying to speak on behalf of those whose voices must be heard. I also don’t want to be seen as simply jumping up now that it seems ok to speak out when the speaking out needs to be happening all the time and not just when the media says it is time or events conspire to create a platform or a moment in time. But I need to speak.
While the media tends to engage with these events and issues as ‘moments’, I’m a firm believer in the need for the broader movement. I’m committed to a movement that brings justice and equitable life outcomes for First Nations people in Australia, and marginalised groups all over the world. I was asked nearly 11 years ago to step into this space because someone saw a ‘wound in this nation’ that went back to first contact and has been continuing ever since. This is what we do at Australians Together – we acknowledge and address this wound and through raising awareness and deepening understanding of the issues involved we encourage everyone to play their part without guilt or blame. This is what we do.
This is what we will continue to do. Having a voice at a moment in time like this is important but taking action to help a moment create momentum that leads to a movement is what we are all about. I abhor the injustice that many minority groups experience, I feel sick at the systemic racism that many in the dominant culture cannot see and I want to scream at the top of my voice when I see and hear of the lived experiences of people daily who feel marginalised, powerless and treated badly. And so, this is what I have committed my life to and our organisation to.
We aren’t loud enough, strong enough or fast enough for some, especially for those experiencing pain, but we are committed to long term, systemic change in this country. While I stand with those who have been oppressed in the United States and all over the world it is in my own backyard that I have chosen to take my stand and play my part. I wish I could do more. I wish I could bring change to all those who experience pain and injustice and prejudice on a daily basis. I wish I could change systems that fail to see how they perpetuate the power imbalance and intentionally or unintentionally reinforce a lack of equity and justice for all. I have long since come to realise I can only raise my voice in my context. I can only play my small part BUT if enough people play their part then this is what creates a movement of change. This is my hope – this is the hope of Australians Together.
I don’t want this to turn into an advert for what we do at Australians Together, but I am committed to what we do. I absolutely believe the approach we have taken is going to help change this country and contribute to this cause worldwide. Those of us who are part of the majority group in society need to listen to the voices of First Nations people, we need to learn how the systems and policies and practices of the past have created and continue to create so much pain and angst and injustice today and then we need to learn how to live together where everyone has a voice, everyone has equal opportunities (so much to unpack here) and everyone is valued and respected. This is what I want, and this is what we are committed to at Australians Together. If you want to listen and learn then there are many places to do this. What I can offer is our place - our website where the voices of First Nations People are shared and where we hope to contribute to all Australians taking a posture that will help them to understand better and then make a meaningful response to help bring what is a desperately needed change in this world.