Truth is at the heart of healing

Posted on 27 May 2017 by Roger Pugh

Indigenous boy on tyre in park

Today marks the start of National Reconciliation Week, an annual event building on respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. The week is bookended by the anniversaries of two important milestones: the historic 1967 referendum on 27 May and the landmark Mabo ruling in the High Court on 3 June, 1992. This year marks 25 and 50 years respectively since these two events; a potent opportunity to reflect on the meaning of reconciliation and how it carries into the work of MacKillop Family Services.

Megan Davis, a constitutional lawyer and key driver in the process around constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, says a fundamental part of reconciliation is in acknowledging the truth. “The problem with reconciliation in Australia is that reconciliation movements are usually coupled with truth telling,” she says. “Australia skipped the truth part and went straight to reconciliation – it stalled.”

The concept of truth telling is central to the process of reconciliation at MacKillop Family Services. Only by acknowledging the truth can we understand history and how it affects people both in the past and today. Truth is at the heart of healing.

At MacKillop we acknowledge the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, communities, culture, lore and ultimately from their connection to country. These removals, which led to the Stolen Generations, caused profound suffering and the ongoing trauma is significant for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.

The approach to the development of MacKillop’s Reconciliation Action Plan has been designed to embed reconciliation processes within the organisation. These processes are focused on promoting truth, understanding, redress and healing, with the aim of enhancing cultural learning and cultural safety.

The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2017 is ‘Let’s take the next steps’. This theme focuses attention on the importance of taking action to create change. We cannot sit back and witness pain – this week is an opportunity to make a difference through action.

National Reconciliation Week is not an event designed purely for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is for all Australians. It is an opportunity to connect, to listen, to heal and to grow. At MacKillop, we encourage people to connect with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to listen to their stories and make a personal commitment to take these experiences and learnings into daily thinking.

Make reconciliation part of your story and your future by getting involved in some of the National Reconciliation Week activities here.