Join me in celebrating 15 years since the Apology 

There are practical yet powerful ways to reflect and reaffirm commitments to healing and the reconciliation journey, writes Trish Oxford.

There are practical yet powerful ways to reflect and reaffirm commitments to healing and the reconciliation journey, writes Trish Oxford.

Fifteen years ago to the day, the then-prime minister Kevin Rudd addressed the whole nation acknowledging Australia’s wrongdoing that resulted in the long-lasting suffering and trauma of the Stolen Generation.

It was a significant day – not just for our people, but for all Australians. Each year I take this opportunity to pause, reflect and reaffirm my commitment to healing and the reconciliation journey. 

Some practical yet powerful ways to join me this year are to:

  • read factual accounts of our history and the trauma caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcefully taken from their families and made to live in strangers’ homes and institutions
  • raise awareness of the many incredibly talented distinguished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, succeeding in fields such as academics, entertainment, the arts and sport – let your family and friends know about these great Australians.    

Despite taking decades for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to receive a formal apology from the Australian government, the date holds poignant significance.

The anniversary of the National Apology  to the Stolen Generation is commemorated on 13 February and encourages remembrance of – and apology to – Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the Stolen Generations whose lives have been profoundly impacted by past government policies of mistreatment, assimilation and forced child removal.

This day is an important occasion to reflect and celebrate how far we have come to support reconciliation and to identify what more we as a united country need to do. It is a reference point from where we can concentrate and renew our efforts on progressing towards a brighter future for all Australians.

In my role as Australian Unity’s general manager for Indigenous business & community engagement, I am inspired and motivated to provide a representative voice and advocate across areas of our business where we have an impact.

With our second Reconciliation Action Plan – and first at the stretch level – we seek to empower our people to become lifelong champions of reconciliation, and to support our mob to thrive through Australian Unity’s commitment to real wellbeing.

Built around the focus areas of business support and growth, meaningful careers and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and embedding and improving cultural learning within our organisation, our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan reaffirms our commitment to ongoing engagement and consultation on the topic and advancement of reconciliation.

This includes enabling a Voice to Parliament and progressing actions from the Uluru Statement from the Heart – actions that are critical towards building a new and shared history as a country.

I am privileged to work for a company who takes reconciliation seriously, and where our mob’s culture is celebrated and incorporated into our business priorities. This includes our dedicated Aboriginal Home Health team who provide culturally tailored care and support to Indigenous clients in their local communities.

First established in 2018 with the aim of addressing some of the significant gaps in holistic wellbeing outcomes faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the team have now grown to be the largest home care and disability services provider to this community in New South Wales.

Aboriginal Home Health are also one of the largest employers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in NSW with 270 employees.

Last year, the incredible team delivered over 172,000 hours of care and support to more than 2,800 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, their families and communities. These many hours of care included support with health and wellbeing, meal provision, domestic assistance, transport, respite care and social support services. 

These services were particularly important to those living often alone at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more recently the natural disasters caused by flooding.

These reconciliation efforts don’t go unnoticed and are recognised and valued by our mob. When our history and culture is appreciated and celebrated, it builds an inclusive culture across the company.

What’s important now as a nation is to work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to respect and celebrate our peoples’ cultures and empower our prosperity.

Trish Oxford is a Ngemba woman and general manager of Indigenous business & community engagement at Australian Unity

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