Today an Elder from the Wurundjeri Tribe performed a Welcome to Country ceremony at my work.
I had never heard of or participated in the ceremony before. It was nice to learn more about Indigenous traditions that continue today. Until I started working in the Development Sector in Melbourne, I had had limited exposure to Indigenous Australian’s. Before this, I only knew what the media or friends and family had told me. Through work I have been fortunate enough to have met and listened to Elders’ tell their story. It wasn’t until I heard their stories and views about reconciliation that I understood the magnitude of what had happened and how far we still need to work together before we can say we are all equal in the Australia we know and love today.
The most important point I took away from the Elder’s speech today is the need for mutual understanding.
Until we get to know each other, we won’t be able to move on. This stayed with me because I realized how little I still know about Indigenous Australian’s culture, traditions, beliefs and way of life. It’s often a hard topic to approach because it’s difficult to admit our ignorance and we fear we will say the wrong thing and cause offence. This was my biggest barrier. In my experience, Elders’ and members of the Indigenous community are welcoming, caring and patient. They understand that we need to first unlearn misconceptions about their people before we can understand them.
We can’t wait from someone to begin the process of mutual understanding for us.
We need to initiate it ourselves.
Featured image from Wikimedia.