Today marks the beginning of National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June). With the theme of ‘In This Together’, this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the reconciliation walks that took place in the year 2000.
The reconciliation walks are a proud moment in Australian history, in which everyday Australians from across the country came together, walking on bridges and roads to demonstrate their support for a more reconciled Australia.
For health professions and practitioners, a focus on reconciliation is contributing to the national effort to ‘close the gap’ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. As an Association, our core vision is for more Australians to value and experience chiropractic care for their health and wellbeing.
In November 2019, the Association began its Reconciliation journey, launching our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). You may have seen the RAP document or the RAP video, which articulates the Association’s vision for reconciliation and commitment to Closing the Gap.
As architects of the ACA’s RAP, many of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rural and Remote Practitioner Network (ARRPN) Committee members themselves started a journey of education and discovery.
Some of the ARRPN Committee members shared and reflected on their experiences with the RAP.
“I thought that I had a good understanding of what was required for the RAP, however as we progressed, I achieved a greater understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. I am very proud of what the ARRPN Committee achieved” – Dr Joan Van Rotterdam, ARRPN Chair.
“I have been glad to be part of the process. It is a good thing that we have developed a RAP for the ACA, as it shows that the ACA are aware of the health issues in Aboriginal people and want to embrace Aboriginal people with our skills. This process really should have happened a long time ago, but it is great to have a start. This is a good foundation that we now need to progress” – Dr William Hayward.
“The RAP highlights the need for social justice. As an Association, profession and individuals, we have to stand for something. We can stand for the right and ability for everyone to access chiropractic care in the community whether they are marginalised, disadvantaged or from Indigenous communities. The fundamental right of every individual to access chiropractic services is important” – Dr Lyndon Woods.
The ACA’s commitment to reconciliation does not stop once the Reflect RAP has been completed. This is just the first of four Reconciliation Action Plans that will be written and implemented over the coming years.
Each RAP will build on the work of its predecessor, with the ARRPN Committee and staff planning to commence drafting of the ACA’s Innovate RAP in the second half of the year, for implementation in January 2021.
Reconciliation Week is a time for us to reflect on the reconciliation journey so far. For the Association our journey has just started, with the RAP as its cornerstone. In the community, a hallmark of National Reconciliation Week is coming together to learn about shared histories, cultures and achievements and to consider how we can all contribute towards achieving reconciliation in Australia.
While current restrictions mean this year’s National Reconciliation Week will be slightly different, groups and organisations will be taking their events online and will rely on social and digital media to have a broader conversation about reconciliation.
A way that you may consider supporting reconciliation or starting your journey, is to read the ACA’s RAP and watch our RAP video and join the ARRPN Facebook page to stay up-to-date with activity and information in this space. You can also utilise resources from Reconciliation Australia to recognise National Reconciliation Week in your practices via reconciliation.org.au, or search for an online event to participate in.
As Australians we are ‘In This Together’ and each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.