Rotary in Australia on the road to reconciliation

Senior Kaurna Man
Mickey O’Brien, senior Kaurna Man, welcomes Rotary members to Kaurna country during a July 2021 event launching the Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Reconciliation Action Plan.

By Katey Halliday, Rotaract Club of Adelaide City, South Australia, Australia, and a member of Rotary International’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce

As a leading community service organisation, Rotary absolutely has a role to play in advancing reconciliation efforts. We exist to serve the community, and to do this well, we must have an understanding and appreciation for Indigenous communities.

Australia is made up of hundreds of different Indigenous nation groups; each with their own culture, customs, language, and laws. Based on Kaurna land on the Adelaide Plains, the Adelaide City Rotaract Club are the first within Rotary to have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), endorsed by the not-for-profit organisation Reconciliation Australia.

Since 2006, these reconciliation plans have provided an avenue for organisations to sustainably and strategically take meaningful action to advance reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Katey Halliday
Katey Halliday explains the Reconciliation Action Plan to members.

Our plan outlines a number of tangible actions to increase our members knowledge of Indigenous peoples, including Kaurna people, and elevate their commitment to building relationships that will lead to meaningful opportunities to serve alongside Indigenous peoples. We seek to ensure that our service projects, initiatives, and membership opportunities are inclusive of, respectful of, and extended to Indigenous peoples.

Our club had already taken the step of Acknowledging the Indigenous Country we’re based upon at meetings a few years ago; an Australian custom demonstrating respect for First Nations peoples. But with the guidance of the reconciliation framework, we wanted to do even more.

We launched our plan at an event in July 2021 with support from Mickey O’Brien, Senior Kaurna Man, who welcomed us to Kaurna country and congratulated us on our commitment to reconciliation. We were joined by Rotaract and Rotary members from District 9510 who wanted to celebrate with us and learn more about our vision and plan to support reconciliation not only in our club, but within other clubs as well.

As community service leaders, Rotarians and Rotaractors have a role to play in contributing to reconciliation and ensuring our service projects, initiatives and membership opportunities are inclusive of Indigenous peoples

Bernadette Barret, Inaugural chair

The vision and principles of Rotary encourage us to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Reconciliation action plans are an incredible resource to support this in Australia. More broadly, taking a strategic look at how our clubs could be more inclusive of not only Indigenous peoples, but underrepresented groups such as LGBTIQ+ communities, is a great way to take strides towards improving cultural safety within our clubs and reaffirming that we are people of integrity.

Every club could benefit from a strategic discussion about how diverse, equitable, and inclusive they are, reflecting on the actions outlined in the following documents. Discuss how they could be tailored to your club environment:

1 thought on “Rotary in Australia on the road to reconciliation

  1. Congratulations on a great initiative. in Aotearoa New Zealand we have seen greater understanding in recent years of our histories. Next year, a new history curriculum for school students will commence, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories/Te Takanga o Te Wā, which will revamp “a curriculum critics have long characterised as insufficient and Eurocentric.” A new generation will have a better understanding of our peoples, history and cultures. Perhaps Rotary should have a role in facilitating greater understanding by those adults in our communities who have not had the opportunity to fully explore our histories. After all, advancing world understanding and peace is at the heart of our mission.

    Liked by 1 person

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