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RACGP leads in reconciliation ‘we can all work towards’


Morgan Liotta


26/05/2021 3:37:31 PM

This week marks 20 years of Reconciliation Australia and almost three decades of the country’s formal reconciliation process.

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The RACGP has committed to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive, inclusive health services.

More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.
 
The theme for the 2021 National Reconciliation Week calls for a reconciliation movement towards a ‘braver and more impactful action’.
 
Recognised each year as a time for all Australians to learn about shared histories, cultures, and achievements, it is an opportunity to explore how reconciliation can be achieved through this collaboration.
 
Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professor Peter O’Mara told newsGP the college has helped to spearhead the reconciliation movement through its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020–22.
 
‘The RACGP is a leader in the space of reconciliation, and with the direction of our RAP, it gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians a further voice to move forward in the right direction and know that it is the right thing,’ he said.
 
‘Reconciliation is more than a word – it is a powerful action that we can all work towards.’
 
Through its RAP framework, the RACGP has committed to reconciliation and improving the knowledge, skills and abilities required to deliver culturally responsive, inclusive health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
 
RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health recognises that supporting reconciliation includes working to close the disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians, to achieve equality in life expectancy, education, employment, wellbeing, and all measurable areas of disadvantage.
 
Division is greatest in the areas of health, such as chronic disease, income, life expectancy, incarceration rates and systemic racism.
 
‘Reconciliation is about equity, closing the gap and building relationships to do this,’ Professor O’Mara said. 

The Uluru Statement from the Heart, endorsed by the RACGP, calls for an independent voice preserved in the Australian Constitution with full inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice through truth-telling and recognition of Australia’s histories and cultures – also engrained in National Reconciliation Week.
 
According to the RACGP and Close the Gap campaign leaders, this process of acknowledging the effects of colonisation will enable all Australian peoples to move forward together towards closing the gap.
 
Embedded in the approach of acknowledging Australia’s history is National Sorry Day on 26 May, to raise awareness of the continued effect of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture ­– the ‘Stolen Generations’.
 
‘National Sorry Day is a day to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations survivors and reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process for our people and nation,’ Professor O’Mara said.
 
‘While this date carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it is also a time for non-Indigenous Australians to acknowledge our true history and how it continues to impact families and communities today, and come together to build strength and be a part of the healing process of our country together.’

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Chair of RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Professor Peter O’Mara calls reconciliation ‘a powerful action that we can all work towards’.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the Bringing them Home report was tabled in Parliament, with the National Apology taking place in 2008.
 
SNAICC: National Voice for Our Children CEO Catherine Liddle, said that the ‘legacy of child removal’ continues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 23 years after the Bringing them Home report.
 
‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are removed and living away from home at an alarming 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous children,’ Ms Liddle said.
 
‘The Bringing them Home report is a reminder of the deep and lasting damage caused by breaking our families apart. It described the need to transform systems to change this storyline for our children – but many of its recommendations have not been implemented.
 
‘Supports are needed to address the drivers of child protection intervention.’
 
Led by SNAICC, the Family Matters Report 2020 reveals that only 52.4% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care were living with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers. The Family Matters campaign aims to end the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
 
‘We need to recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the experts in providing culturally responsive services to our children and families,’ Ms Liddle said.
 
‘Governments must invest more in our community-led healing and support programs that respond to trauma for children, families and communities.’
 
To mark National Reconciliation Week, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is calling on all Australians, governments, and institutions to take continued action and commitment towards reconciliation, and to reflect and communicate about the ways reconciliation can be supported.
 
‘If we can work together as a nation to address the disparity across different areas, we can deliver on reconciliation outcomes and start closing the gap,’ NACCHO Chair Donnella Mills said.
 
‘Until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are fully engaged and have control over their health and wellbeing, any “refresh” will be marginal at best and certainly won’t close the gap.’
 
Ms Mills said that better outcomes for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples starts with reconciliation in action.
 
‘Our 143 Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, working hand-in-hand with other health services, governments, organisations and communities to care for people and improve health outcomes, is reconciliation in action,’ she said.
 
National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May – 3 June each year.
 
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