Today in Australia is National Sorry Day, when it’s important to recognise the continuing impacts of colonisation on the first custodians of the land. In particular, the pain, suffering, and injustices inflicted on the “Stolen Generations” continues to have an intergenerational effect.
For many years, I sadly I was ambivalent, dismissive, even disbelieving about the issues faced by indigenous Australians, with my views developed through a lens of being in one of the most privilege groups in society- a white male. However, having spent the past 3 years working on a daily basis with many young indigenous people and their families, I have seen the struggle first-hand.
From over-representation in the justice system and suicide statistics (indigenous Australians are twice as likely to take their own life), to the socioeconomic disparity of many indigenous people compared to the greater population, there is a long way to go to “close the gap” of this severe inequality.
However, whilst it’s important to look to the past and learn from mistakes made, I’ve found that the way forward for healing involves understanding of the individual, family, and broader culture, along with a providing a pragmatic approach to closing the gap of inequality between the Australian indigenous people and the greater population.
Having developed good relationships with many of the indigenous people with whom I have been involved, I’ve found that respect is the key to bridging any differences- and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all entitled to?