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  • Straight from the source – September 2021

    “In the spirit of reconciliation, I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners and custodians of all the lands from which we join this meeting today and extend that respect to elders past, present and emerging.” Today, our acknowledgement of country rolls off the tongue and is increasingly becoming the norm.

    I recently attended the inaugural launch of the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership. The Centre is the new home for education, engagement and research supporting the self-determined growth of Indigenous businesspeople, companies, and communities around Australia; a vision that Associate Professor Michelle Evans has championed for years.

    Reflecting on the launch, I recalled that it has taken me a long time to embrace my Australian identity and what this means. As a first generation Australian, I never quite fit. My parents were Italian migrants and my first language Italian. At one stage I even remember being labelled an ‘Italo-Australian’. Don’t get me wrong; I am proud of my heritage, but I love my country and where I was born. However, the love of my country did not transcend to understanding its true history.

    In primary school, I was taught Captain Cook discovered Australia. Then in secondary school I studied Australian History where we were taught that it was in fact the Portuguese who colonised Australia. At no time, do I recall any reference being made to First Nations people.

    In fact, it wasn’t until many years after I had finished university that I truly appreciated our nation’s history. I attended an event with my children where we were introduced to the rich Wurundjeri history and stories in our local community.

    Over the years, I have followed public debate, supported MABO and cried when I think of the stolen generations. For this I am truly sorry. But it is not enough to be sorry. Enabling representation and valuing diversity is key.

    In the ATO, we recently released our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2024, our formal plan to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce. It outlines what we will do to push further to becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace by detailing five goals for the organisation, which includes increasing our workforce diversity at all levels. We continue to make good strides and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation has increased to 2.9% and we have introduced new programs such as Indigenous secondments.

    Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is complemented by the ATO’s Reconciliation Action Plan which represents our commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Not-For-Profit (NFP) Centre has committed to three initiatives that support reconciliation. The initiatives are consistent with the support we provide to NFPs and the sector. In 2021-22 we will:

    1. provide a designated position on the Not-for-Profit Stewardship Group for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative
    2. collaborate with the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to provide enhanced support for Indigenous Not for Profit organisations
    3. develop an Indigenous Not-for-Profit engagement strategy to support improved client experiences for Indigenous Not-for-Profit organisations. This will be developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

    The economic life of our country depends on us working together and embracing diversity. However, at this phenomenal time in our history, supporting each other and those in need are equally necessary.

    At the time of writing this blog, I have just heard our premier’s ‘COVID announcements’. In Victoria, like many other parts of the country, the words ‘extraordinary’, ‘epidemiologist’, and ‘unprecedented’ will be forever ingrained in our psyche as associated with the pandemic. We are watching too, as case numbers increase and restrictions continue. In all this noise, it is imperative we don’t lose sight of what is important – our well-being!

    On Thursday 9 September we acknowledged R U OK? Day. R U OK? is an Australian NFP that advocates for people to have conversations with others. So, despite what is happening, and even though we are not in the office, or able to meet with our family and friends, reach out and have that conversation, check in!

    R U OK? is something we need to be doing every day, especially as we start to emerge from one of the longest and most difficult pandemics any of us will ever experience in our lifetimes.

    No matter who you are and what you do, remember to reach out for assistance if you need it.

    Last modified: 07 Sep 2021QC 66743