Reconciliation is our aim
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 5, 5 July 2019, page no. 23
Reconciliation is central to the QTU’s vision for members and for Australia.
In 2015, we launched our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with the approval of Reconciliation Australia. As we move towards the finalisation of consultation and endorsement processes for the QTU’s Innovate RAP, we commit to our vision for a society that respects, protects and promotes the rights of all, and in which Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians live and work together with mutual respect and understanding, free from discrimination and harassment.
For the past two years, we have been reviewing our RAP, which had been developed by our members and QTU staff on behalf of our members and our organisation. We are proud of our democratic Union. We have facilitated the review of our Reflect RAP and the development of our Innovate RAP through the QTU’s RAP Working Group, in active consultation with the QTU’s Indigenous committee Gandu Jarjum and our Executive.
Our RAP champion is Kevin Bates, QTU President. Gandu Jarjum leads the QTU in relation to reconciliation. Three members of the RAP committee are members of Gandu Jarjum. The working party is facilitated by the QTU’s Assistant Secretary and has QTU staff members and grassroots union members from a range of schools and in a range of positions, including a principal, a head of department and classroom teachers.
It is worth noting that last year’s full-day face-to-face working party meeting afforded the opportunity for a broader range of people to attend, including more members of Gandu Jarjum. While the focus of the meeting was progressing the development of our Innovate RAP, a key outcome was the naming of the QTU’s 2019 Biennial Conference “Our Meeting Place”.
The QTU marked National Reconciliation Week (NRW) at the State Council meeting held in Brisbane on 25 May, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member of QTU Executive Aunty Penny Taylor spoke about the theme of reconciliation week and its significance to her, while Rachel Bos of Gandu Jarjum, read out TAFE member, Merv King’s personal reflections on what reconciliation meant to him. Merv has recently been elected to Gandu Jarjum. As he was unable to attend State Council, Rachel was honoured to be “his voice” on the occasion. Newly elected QTU Vice-President Cresta Richardson presented her reflections on the NRW’s theme of being “Grounded in truth, walk together with courage”.
As the union for Queensland state school and TAFE teachers and educational leaders, we recognise the unique role our schools and educational institutions have in achieving this vision. Further, we seek to make visible the activism, the leadership and voices of our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander members within the education community and our Union.
The QTU believes that reconciliation is everybody’s business. We believe that, as educators, our members are well placed to be at the forefront of leading reconciliation within their schools and with their communities. As a Union, we choose to embrace practices that promote reconciliation, recognising the wrongs of the past and giving voice to the achievements of today. We commit to sharing and honouring ways of knowing and doing that belong to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. In doing so, we remain mindful of the deep impact of structural racism that is embedded in our systems and dominant cultural practices.
As an organisation, we are committed to social justice and therefore to policies and, importantly, processes that enact reconciliation. We are committed to nurturing established relations and developing new ones with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples; and through this we demonstrate our solidarity and respect. Together we stand united in continuing the struggle for justice, promoting cross-cultural learning, providing opportunities for professional development, sharing, and working together for a better future for all Queensland students, school communities, educational workplaces and organisations.
The second week (7-14 July) of the school holidays provides a time to join in the many and varied community events that will take place recognise and celebrate NAIDOC week. The theme of NAIDOC Week this is year is Voice, Truth, Treaty, capturing the three elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.