The third leg of the chicken in Australia, as we discussed previously, is the reconciliation project. Since its inception some 24 years ago, it has developed a life and purpose of its own, disconnected from the real issue which is the need to address the systemic and structural impacts of colonial genocide on the first people of this land.
Reconciliation has spawned a plethora of offspring, one of which is Reconciliation Acton Plans. All corporations, government departments, places of learning, sporting bodies and even churches, whom one would suspect already have such a document as part of their reason for being – The Gospels!
These reconciliation action plans (RAPS) are based on a series of templates provided by Reconciliation Australia. They are graduated plans moving from reconciliation for dummies using words like Reflect, Stretch, Innovate and Elevate. They are cookies cutter plans using the same language and wording, only the names and faces are changed to protect the innocent!
This week I have discovered that Rio Tinto, the company who blew up a 46,000-year-old sacred site to expand its mining operations has one. It may have been the reason they “expressed deep regret over the blast to Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt in a private phone call.”
Fortescue Metals, the flagship company of Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has one, maybe more than one. It may have been the reason, at an FMG shareholders meeting last year, company founder and chairman Andrew Forrest called compensation for the Yindjibarndi people “mining welfare” and said Roebourne was “not a community I’m going to empower with tens of millions of your cash”.
It seems everybody who is anybody has a reconciliation action plan. Reconciliation Australia seems to be so busy congratulating people on their first or second or third RAP that they would have little time to see if any of these are actually delivering life-changing outcomes for Aboriginal people or just making white people feel good about themselves because they have a “be nice to blackfella plan.”
Why hasn’t Australia implemented the Statement from the Heart, if so many are committed to “deepening relationships with Aboriginal people”? As Stan Grant says, there is a lot of talk but no catharsis. Why are we denied a voice, prevented from being empowered, have a treaty and be recompensed appropriately for the use of our land by those who stole it and who now make a living off it; indeed some make a fortune from it.
Alongside the RAP nonsense we have the apology mania, always written as a feel-good document, big on motherhood statements, short on actualities. It is fine to recognise that our “churches are on stolen land” but you must then say what you are going do to right that issue. Perhaps entering into a land-use agreement where both parties have access and the non-indigenous party pays a market rate for occupation.
Seeking to deepen relationships is simply not good enough. We also need to say what we are going to do about the destruction of the oldest ‘religious’ culture in the world through the Christianising of a people who were far more hospitable and welcoming, and remain to this day such despite what has occurred, than those who purported to represent the Kingdom of unconditional love. They had a deep “spiritual” relationship with their kin in this place millennia before the birth of Christianity and this should be respected and allowed to be without the need for conversion.
If there is any chance of a future for our people we need to wave goodbye to the third leg of the chicken and its offspring and set about resolving the original sin of this country.
Some more thoughts on that soon.