By John Cleland
This year’s NAIDOC 2021 celebrated the theme “Heal Country!” and called on all Australians to continue to seek greater respect and protection for the land that is a central part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, the world’s oldest living culture.
With our Reconciliation Action Plan in place, Essential Energy is bringing about one of the key goals which is to learn about and celebrate our first nation’s culture.
During NAIDOC Week we heard from proud Gulibal man, Mick Lambeth who works as a powerline worker in our Casino Depot on Bundjalung country. He shared his art, experiences, and family and what the NAIDOC 2021 theme meant for him.
NAIDOC Week is a time for all of us to reflect on the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the significant work still to be done to achieve better outcomes for all Australians. I grew up on Kuwarra and Wangkathaa Country, near Leonora in the eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia, with strong connections to the local Aboriginal community. Since European settlement the economic success of this area has waxed and waned, mostly tied to the fortunes of nearby mines. What remained constant however was the disparity in outcomes between the local Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, with a key issue being impediments to First Nations people maintaining a meaningful connection to their land and culture.
This year NAIDOC Week called all Australians to do what we can to Heal Country! As individuals, as a business and as a community, we can all find ways to improve opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our organisation and in the communities we serve.
At Essential Energy we are encouraging our employees to:
- Learn more about the 29 First Nations upon whose lands we live and work – see the First Nations and our network area map
- Acknowledge Country at the start of meetings
- Review the actions in our Reconciliation Action Plan
- Participate in cultural competency learning
While NAIDOC week is a useful time to focus on these important issues, our journey toward reconciliation continues. My focus is clearly on increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in our workforce and ensuring our workplace provides the best opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to prosper, and I was pleased that our recent Apprentice intake earlier this year had a 25% representation from our First Nations peoples.
Let’s all continue to do what we can to promote reconciliation in our organisation and in our communities.