Many Australians are currently acknowledging and celebrating some significant dates with Australia's First Peoples.
Recently, Tuesday 26 May marked National Sorry Day, a day that acknowledges the members of the Stolen Generations. Australia is also celebrating National Reconciliation Week that began last week on Wednesday 27 May. A week dedicated to learning about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving Reconciliation in Australia.
Over the past 18 months, Airmaster has been working towards Reconciliation, including the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Airmaster CEO, Noel Courtney, discusses both of these important dates and how Airmaster is working towards Reconciliation.
What is the importance of National Sorry Day to you, and does it hold any significance?
To me, this day represents the nation’s collective mindset that the treatment of our First Peoples was unacceptable. It should never have happened in the context of our society's contemporary views and expectations and as such is our recognition of past wrongs. It's an important day to us all because while we cannot change what has happened in the past, we can determine what happens in the future.
Do you believe we (as a country) have done enough since Kevin Rudd's 2008 "Sorry" speech?
Until we eliminate the disparity in life expectancy between the indigenous and non-indigenous population, remove social and economic disadvantage, deal with and fix a raft of other issues such as violence, race discrimination, reduced life expectancy to mention just a few then no, we haven't done enough.
Where do you see Airmaster now and how do you see Airmaster moving forward with Reconciliation?
I feel very proud of the work we have done getting our RAP defined through a process of education on indigenous culture, why reconciliation matters to us all and how we can contribute to a fairer, more inclusive society. However, now is the time to double down on our efforts to meet the action points in our plan and then start working on the next iteration. We will be providing ongoing support to our Reconciliation Working Group to continue its excellent work for our company and the community.
Does Airmaster have anything written in their current procedures and policies that acknowledge the Traditional Owners, and do you think this could be improved?
We do have an acknowledgement of country process. We do acknowledge our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our official communications. Our RAP requires that we promote awareness of cultural sensitivities and respect of culture and peoples, it's a good start, but there is always room for improvement.
How can we help to educate others to make them aware of what these days represents to the Indigenous Peoples?
We can educate others by following through on our Reconciliation Action Plan today and developing it as we go. Leading by example, we can promote the work that we do to our employees, customers and suppliers and why we do it.
Moving forward, how do you see us (Australia) "Closing the Gap" in the future?
The gap between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples is such a complex issue. I'm not in any way qualified to suggest anything that can help close this gap. Suffice to say it's something that must be resolved.
Finally, are there any other changes you think could be made to make our country a more equal and accepting place?
From a personal perspective and particularly in our industry, I do feel that it's important to provide the support, tools and know-how to let our First Peoples help themselves. I have had personal conversations with indigenous business leaders who told me that empowering our First Peoples to deliver their own services in their own communities is what is needed. This builds confidence, self-esteem, social cohesion and respect, and will make our country a better place for us all.
To learn more about Airmaster's initiatives in helping to achieve Reconciliation, visit our Reconciliation Action Plan page.