This year, during NAIDOC Week, we held online event with guest speaker Gunai/Kurnai woman Ronnie Gorrie, discussing justice, safety, policing and racism, as well as the profound challenges of seeking to create change from within institutions.
The 2022 theme – 'Get up! Stand up! Show up!' – recognises that we need to move beyond just acknowledgement, good intentions, empty words and promises, and hollow commitments. The relationship between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Australians needs to be based on justice, equity, and the proper recognition of First Nations peoples' rights.
Over 200 staff joined us online to hear from Gunai/Kurnai woman, author Ronnie Gorrie. Ronnie is a writer and the author of Black and Blue. In her memoir, Ronnie explores the impact of racism on her family and life, the impact of intergenerational trauma resulting from cultural dispossession, and the inevitable difficulties of making her way in the white and male-dominated workplace of the police force.
In a frank and wide-ranging conversation with Taungurung man Lawrence Moser (Victoria Legal Aid Associate Director, Aboriginal Services), Ronnie shared how her life experiences shaped her decision to become a police officer.
She reflected her experiences of racism and how the justice system is culturally unsafe for Aboriginal people. As Ronnie said, we know that Aboriginal people make up 3 per cent of the population yet are highest incarcerated people in Australia, and many of the offences are simple offences.
Ronnie challenged us all to do better. Reiterating the need for cultural awareness training to be more than a tick box exercise or an add on at the end of a recruitment process and for the legal profession to stop, unlearn, relearn, reflect and do a whole lot better.
We continue to work on improving the way we work with and stand with First Nations people.
Reconciliation Action Plan evaluation
The recent demonstrates that we have made significant progress since its launch in 2019. While has been good progress on changing the way we work including a significant shift in our organisational culture, it’s clear there are opportunities to improve our engagement with First Nations communities, organisations and networks, our culturally safe service responses, and key partnerships with Aboriginal Legal Services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
Reviewed 15 July 2022