The term reconciliation in its simplest form means building better relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the benefit of all Australians.

As stated by the Australian Government: “Reconciliation is about unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. It is about respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and valuing justice and equity for all Australians.”

But reconciliation is not simple and neither are the reasons for why it is important.

In modern Australia, an ongoing pattern of exclusion and racism means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face higher rates of health problems, and barriers to education and employment. This has led to a divide, a gap, between the life expectancy of Australia’s First Peoples and other Australians. Reconciliation aims to close this gap by increasing educational opportunities, opening doors to more meaningful and higher paying employment, and making health care and preventative health education accessible both physically and culturally.

Providing opportunities to learn about and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures increases everyone’s cultural understanding and respect, and consequently reinforces that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture has a unique and significant place for all Australians.

Life Without Barriers works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and adults across Australia and in almost all of our service delivery areas. We know that ensuring respect for cultural connectedness is vital for our clients and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is why we have given a public commitment to honouring this goal through our Reconciliation Action Plans.

In 2009 we began our journey to Reconciliation. It was then we established the Life Without Barriers National Cultural Respect Steering Committee which comprised equal representation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employees from across Australia.

We recognise that it is important we make conscious, cooperative and determined action to ensure our work is founded on a keystone of justice. Our people respond with action to this social and moral responsibility within a model of respect in their work, every day. We joyfully and purposefully ‘walk and talk’ the plan together.

As a leader in the social services sector we stand firmly in the important part we have to play in helping shape the future and forging a way forward in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so distinctive cultural identities are respected and self-determination is supported along with the sharing of economic benefits and opportunity.


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