Acknowledgement is the key

Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson at Belgrave Survival Day 2017. Photo by Barbara Oehring.

On 6 May Knox City Council provided an Aboriginal Cultural Competency community training session via Zoom. The presenter was Bernadette Atkinson from the Koorie Heritage Trust who grew up in Knox but her parents and some family members have since moved back to their Yorta Yorta country at Echuca.

It was a very full, valuable session covering such topics as the difference between a welcome to country and an acknowledgement of country, Australian history from an Aboriginal perspective, an encouragement to build relationships with Aboriginal people and communities and the fact that Aboriginal people are not homogeneous – there are many different languages and customs. Resources were also provided for participants to follow up or pursue a topic in more depth.

Bernadette involved the participants by inviting us to think about elements of our own identity and what we regard as sources of pride, and later to nominate things like which states or territories have the highest proportion of Aboriginal people. She was a very open and engaging presenter,  handling comments and questions in her stride. She emphasised that talking about the past is not about blame or guilt. It is about knowing, understanding and acknowledging our shared history so that we can live in the present and make a future.

Beth Duffy

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