5 June 2024

Staff, the people we support, and carers attended local events in the community.

Image: Staff gathered in a group at Wanarayimanha National Reconciliation Week Walk.

For Life Without Barriers, National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a week full of listening, learning, connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and taking action to address the unfinished business of Reconciliation.

From the Kaurna Lands to Gubbi Gubbi Country, our teams attended, hosted, and supported events across Australia to acknowledge NRW.

Australian Wide

AICD's Bridging Perspectives - Two-way learning in governance webinar

Attendees heard insights from leading First Nations and non-Indigenous directors as they discussed how exchanging knowledge and experiences can pave the way for more inclusive and effective governance practices.

"As a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, it was invaluable to hear from First Nations and Non-Indigenous Board Directors about the importance of pursuing Reconciliation at the board level which then sets the organisation's commitment to Reconciliation," said Anthony Raitman, Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives, Child, Youth, and Family.

"Perhaps of most interest was the panel discussion about ensuring board meetings are inclusive and provide opportunities for yarning, shared learning, and truth-telling in a safe and supportive environment."

Yarning Circle: Now More than Ever

Hosted by Aunty Munya Andrews and Carla Rogers, Evolve Communities' Yarning Circle Webinar was an uplifting experience with information and practical steps allies can take, leaving participants feeling empowered to take action.

"Aunty Munya and Carla ran a truly informative webinar that was inspiring the participants in our journey as Allies," said Anna Nolan, Practice Assurance Business Partner NSW and ACT, Child, Youth, and Family.

New South Wales

Newcastle Office Reconciliation Morning Tea

Life Without Barriers held a special morning tea attended by over 140 employees in our Newcastle head office. We were privileged to have Anaiwan Elder and Nganyawana Clansman Uncle Les Ahoy join us and deliver a moving Welcome to Country. As part of the event, attendees were encouraged to reflect on the National Reconciliation Week Theme 'Now More Than Ever' and consider the steps they can take toward Reconciliation.

"Reconciliation, it's complex. It's about taking the time and striving towards the future. The theme Now More Than Ever comes at a perfect time, because now more than ever we need to reduce the over-representation of our jarjums, not only in out-of-home care, but the number of our babies coming into the child protection system," said Wendy Knight, Executive Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Practice and Partnerships.

Central Coast Reconciliation Event

Staff joined a Reconciliation Gathering on Kuring-gai Country, where they marched down from Mann Street, Gosford, to Industree Stadium with the community. Following the walk, there was a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with a powerful Acknowledgement of Country, songs, dance, and Yidaki (didge).

Northern Territory

Commemorating National Sorry Day Talks

Florence Henaway, Director of Disability and Mental Health Services, NT and Sarah Galbraith, Director of Child, Youth, and Family, NT, attended the Commemorating National Sorry Day Talks at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory on Larrakia Country. It was a moving and powerful event that included truth telling talks from members and descendants of the Stolen Generations.

"It was very touching to hear the personal stories shared from the Stolen Generation survivors and how they were impacted by being forceable removed from their mothers as a small child. They are strong and resilient and gain their strength from being able to share their stories with allies and the next generation," said Florence Henaway.


National Sorry Day Breakfast

Staff from Southeast Queensland came together to take part in the National Sorry Day Community Breakfast at Orleigh Park, hosted by Link-up Queensland, The Healing Foundation and Micha Projects.

The event started with a brilliant and heartfelt Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony from Shannon Ruska and his deadly didgeridoo player. This was followed by performances from Rochelle Pitt, the Sunshine Choir, and the Deaf Indigenous Dancers who performed alongside Mike Webb playing the didgeridoo and clapsticks.

"I was in awe at their story of all the barriers they have faced as a group and as individuals. Their performance was definitely 10/10 and I'm looking forward to seeing them again," said Silvia Jones-Terare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Support Coordinator.

The event also featured a talk from guest speaker Uncle Ross, a client of Link-up QLD, who shared a story about his grandfather and the impacts he and his family have felt for generations due to the forced removals of the stolen generations.

Cairns Reconciliation Brunch

Staff hosted a Reconciliation brunch at the Manunda office in Gimuy. The team were joined by Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation staff and honoured to have Uncle Gudju Gudju (Seith Fourmile) deliver a Welcome to Country.

National Reconciliation Week Lunch and Learn

Our Brisbane and Milton teams gathered for a special NRW Lunch and Learn event.

Staff watched a number of informative videos focused on truth-telling and spent some time thinking about how they could improve and personalise their delivery of an Acknowledgement to Country, before wrapping up with a sing along to the 2024 National Reconciliation Week anthem song.

Reconciliation Queensland National Reconciliation Week Dinner

Staff had an unforgettable evening at Reconciliation Queensland's annual dinner, which featured distinguished speakers Joshua Creamer and Tanya Denning-Orman, alongside a special live performance by Fred Leone. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and discuss how allies can contribute to meaningful change.

"It was wonderful to spend time and listen to powerful, thought-provoking panellists at Reconciliation Queensland's NRW2024 Dinner," said Helen Anderson, Senior Communications Advisor.

"I'm always so struck by the resilience shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speakers sharing these stories and the essential work they do across all sectors to keep fighting for justice, truth-telling, treaty, and change."

Image: Staff sitting at a table at Reconciliation Queensland’s NRW2024 dinner.

Ipswich Reconciliation Activities

The team headed to Hardings Paddock with young people, their family members, and carers, to enjoy beading, rock decorating, and canvas painting.

"It was wonderful to see our young people with their family, foster carers and staff enjoying the activities and spending time together on Country," said Peta-Maree Strathie, Program Manager, Child, Youth, and Family, Ipswich.

Lalania Tusa also hosted a cultural learning session at the Ipswich office with activities for staff, including weaving, beading, and painting. Lalania taught the team about the purpose of an Acknowledgement to Country and how important it is to be mindful of the wording. Staff also enjoyed the kangaroo sausage rolls, lemon myrtle billy tea, and damper that Lalani made.

"A big thank you to the Ipswich Reconciliation Action Plan committee for the time and effort they put into organising these wonderful events and giving us all the opportunity to consider what Reconciliation means to us," said Peta.

Aunty Betty Memorial Walk

The North Coast team had the privilege of attending the Aunty Betty Memorial Walk at Dicky Beach on Gubbi Gubbi Land. The event celebrates and acknowledges the work of Aunty Betty within the Sunshine Coast community and her contribution towards Reconciliation.

The morning provided attendees the opportunity to connect with local Indigenous cultural heritage through dance, music, and a guided walk with the Traditional Custodians of Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Country.

Cultural Camp

The Cairns and Townsville Child, Youth, and Family teams held their first combined Cultural Camp for young people and foster carers at Daradgee Environmental Education Centre.

Activities included boomerang painting, basket weaving, and creating art with handprints. We listened to storytelling from local elders, engaged in traditional dancing and learned about the native fauna of the area. Young people, their families, and staff helped cook damper and the evenings were filled with marshmallows, smores, storytelling by the campfire and movies under the stars.

"Connecting with the young people, hearing them laugh and seeing their smiles was so heart warming. The entire weekend was uplifting and rewarding for all that joined," said Elizabeth Browne, Administration Officer.

Point Cartwright Reconciliation Reflection Event

North Coast and Moreton Bay Staff gathered for a Reconciliation reflection event on the beach at Point Cartwright on Gubbi Gubbi Country. It was a fantastic opportunity for staff to reflect on what Reconciliation means to them and what they can do in their individual lives to live and work better with Aboriginal young people, carers, and community members.

"It was a beautiful day for staff to come together to reflect and discuss Reconciliation within our team surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Gubbi Gubbi Country," said Japhia McGuire, Regional Practice Lead, Child, Youth, and Family.

Image: Two people with their back to the camera, looking out at the beach at Port Cartwright.

South Australia

Reconciliation in the West

We had an incredible collection of staff show up bright and early in cold and raining conditions to help set up this year's Rec in the West event. The sun came out soon after the event officially started and stayed dry for the rest of the day with so many wonderful interactions between our presenting partner organisations Tauondi Aboriginal College, UnitingSA, AnglicareSA, other service providers, attendees, Aboriginal businesses, Elders, and young people from 40+ school groups, and wider the community.

The BBQ team worked hard, feeding a huge turnout of almost 2,000 people with around 900 attending from school groups alone this year!

As attendees waited in the BBQ line, two acts entertained them, performing live on the BBQ Zone Stage. This included a duo act with Cat Carter, who grew up in care and received support from Life Without Barriers and our Living Arts team. Cat shared an original song about her experiences growing up in care and being restricted by 'red tape'.

As the final set ended, an Aboriginal woman from the APY lands approached the stage and asked if she could share some of her own songs in her own language. This was exceptionally well received by everyone in the area as her voice soared across the BBQ Zone. The organisers have made plans to book her for a paid performance slot on the main stage at next year's event.

At the event, Lisa Douglas, Child and Family Practitioner, and Shaniyah, a young person supported by Life Without Barriers, acted Life Without Barriers' official photographers. Shaniyah also participates in the LA Photography Club and as an emerging photographer, this was an amazing event for her to capture images at. Shaniyah shared that she especially enjoyed taking photos of the performers on the main stage.

"This event is truly special. This event focuses on sharing and connecting with the Aboriginal Community and all community members who live, work, and play on Kaurna Lands in the Western Adelaide region. My role as Artist Liaison involves providing paid opportunities for Aboriginal artists to perform their music, deliver workshops and share their cultural knowledge, strengths, and stories with all who join us," said Phi Theodoros, Lead Resident Artist, Living Arts Program.

"Rec in the West is an inspiring event, and I am so proud of how much it has grown since I first joined the committee in 2015, going from approximately 400 attendees to almost 2,000 attendees this year, despite the rainy weather."

Reconciliation in the South

Ramsay place was vibrant and busy with members of the community gathering for Reconciliation in the South. The event had engaging speakers and activities, and an array of stalls. The Life Without Barriers' stall offered free fruit and an interactive art activity where children helped to create a rainbow serpent.

"It was a lovely day. We got to witness a smoking ceremony, cultural dances, listen to a beautiful Aboriginal choir and hear from Elders who discussed their efforts in preserving Aboriginal culture for future generations." said Cerise DelNido, Team Leader Mental Health, SA.

Image: Rainbow snake created at Rec in the South.


National Reconciliation Week 2024 Oration

Hosted by the City of Melbourne, the annual NRW Oration explored this year's theme 'Now More Than Ever' with guest speakers Ngarra Murray and Rueben Berg, Co-chairs for the First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria.

Ngarra spoke about Treaty, explaining what Treaty is and what it will involve in Victoria. Reuben spoke eloquently about how the term 'self-determination' is often misused by organisations, explained that self-determination means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are not just consulted, they are empowered to have the final said in decision making that impacts their communities.

Ngarra and Rueben finished the oration with an important message that one of the most powerful things allies in Victoria can do right now is to mention their support for Treaty whenever they say an acknowledgement of country.

Image: Ngarra Murray and Rueben Berg on stage at the NRW 2024 Oration in Naarm.

Victorian National Reconciliation Week Gathering

Staff gathered at our Canterbury, South Morang, and Sunshine offices on Wurundjeri, Woi Wurrung Country, and our Dandenong office on Boonwurrung Country, to watch, listen, and learn.

The session included a heartfelt Acknowledgement of Country from Nigel Phillips, Regional Director and Narelle Demeris, Director of Disability and Mental Health Services, SA, VIC, TAS, followed by a truth-telling session ran by Jodie Reid, proud indigenous woman from the Bpangerang Mob and Program Coordinator at Life Without Barriers, which included an engaging and informative quiz activity that had staff engaged in a yarn long after the session had concluded.

"Our Victorian Reconciliation Week Event created an awesome opportunity for everyone to come together, both in person and online. Attendees were moved during the Stolen Generation testimonial videos and energised during the interactive quiz," said Nicole Hassall, Executive Officer, Victorian Disability Accommodation Supports.

"It was lovely for all the Dandenong teams to come together in person to participate in this important event and share a meal together," said Lauren Riddle, Program Manager NISS, VIC.

Western Australia

Reconciliation WA National Reconciliation Week Breakfast

Staff gathered at Optus Stadium on Wajuk Country and at Goldfields Arts Centre on Wangkathaa Country, for the Reconciliation WA breakfast. Attendees heard from featured regional voices and engaging keynote speakers, as they discussed Reconciliation actions and education, and truth-telling.

"We were challenged to think about the commitment we can make to truth-telling and Reconciliation, because the future has to be different, and it has to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples," said Helen Nys, Director Child, Youth, and Family, WA.

Wanarayimanha National Reconciliation Week Walk

The Geraldton community came together for the Wanarayimanha NRW Walk, hosted by members of the Justice and Community Network. Wanarayimanha is Wadjarri for walking together in a group or mob which underscored the importance of positive community engagement and working together 'Now More Than Ever' to support Reconciliation.

"Everyone enjoyed being together and showing solidarity with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the spirit of Reconciliation Week," said Danielle Ward, Program Manager Child, Youth, and Family, WA.

We are committed to Reconciliation

Learn more about our commitment to Reconciliation through our Reconciliation Action Plan

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