20 actions for reconciliation in 2021

The goal of the reconciliation movement is for a just, equitable and reconciled country. This will only be achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Peoples of this land, are able to equally contribute to daily life of the nation. Until this happens, Australia will not reach its full potential.

We need more people speaking up, asking the hard questions and taking action during and beyond National Reconciliation Week. To help you, we have compiled 20 actions for reconciliation. 

If you are hesitant to challenge some of the long-held but incorrect ideas in your community, be assured that across this country many people just like you are joining First Nations peoples in this effort.

This National Reconciliation Week, make reconciliation more than a word. Move from safe to brave on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

1.Move from ally to accomplice

Move from ally to accomplice

Being only three per cent of the Australian population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can’t raise the profile of important issues without allies. But what does a good ally look like?
Safer
Know how to be a better ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Braver
Step up, show up, be an accomplice. Disruption of the status quo is often necessary to achieve real change. Image: 2015 National Reconciliation Week Poster
2. Call Out Racism

Call Out Racism 

Racism damages lives and livelihoods. Whether in the city, regions, online or in public spaces, getting abused, ignored, refused service or getting followed by security, has long-lasting damaging effects. 

Safer

Check you understand how your unconscious bias and attitudes affect your thinking and actions.

Braver

Be ready to call out racism when you hear or see it. Have those conversations with family and friends.

Image: 2009 National Reconciliation Week Poster

3. It's all our history

It’s all our history

A key challenge in the reconciliation movement has been overturning the cult of disremembering and the great Australian silence when it comes to our true history.

Safer

When talking about the history or story of Australia, always include the participation and presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Braver

Find out facts and ways to learn and talk about Australia’s history

Image: 2008 National Reconciliation Week Poster

4. Know your local history

Know your local history

Australia’s history is marred by massacres, forced removals and cultural genocide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Memorialising and commemorating those who committed these acts continues the suffering inflicted by the original crime.

Safer

Investigate your local history and the record of colonial leaders who are memorialised by place names in your local area.

Braver

If they are guilty of historical crimes against First Nations peoples, then start a community conversation about renaming these places.

Image: 2018 National Reconciliation Week Poster

5. Create culturally safe places

Create culturally safe places

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples don’t always feel safe or welcomed in some places, and have been historically excluded from many.

Safer

Understand what could make your school or workplace a more welcoming and safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Braver

Seek cultural awareness training locally or find a facilitator via Supply Nation

Image: 2010 National Reconciliation Week Poster

6. Make reconciliation everyone's business

Make reconciliation everyone’s business

Make reconciliation part of the business of your workplace culture and decision-making. Practical, reportable actions will drive an organisation’s contribution to reconciliation  internally and in the communities in which it operates.

Safer

Start a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for your workplace.

Braver

Already have a RAP? Join your RAP Working Group.

Image: 2014 National Reconciliation Week Poster

7. Drive reconciliation in education

Drive reconciliation in education

If you didn’t learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander cultures at school, make sure our kids do now.

Safer

See all the ways you can help your school or early learning service learn about teaching and learning about reconciliation on the Narragunnawali website and at Learn our Truth.

Braver

Challenge colonial perspectives on history, support school curriculum changes, commit to a RAP in your school or early learning service. 

Image: 2005 National Reconciliation Week Poster

8. Aim higher in higher education

Aim higher in higher education

Voices, systems of knowledge, ways of being, and the specific expertise of First Nations professionals and students are still fighting to be heard in universities and colleges.

Safer

Connect and work with First Peoples to improve the teaching of First Nations history, current affairs, and cultures in your college or university.

Braver

Encourage your educational institution to fund research into frontier wars,  massacres, and other areas of underexplored Australian history. Take the workload off First Nations academics.

Image: 2007 National Reconciliation Week Poster

9. Support self-determination

Support self-determination

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be in charge of decision-making and leadership for themselves and their communities. 

Safer

Understand the strengths in First Nations community control in governing, health, education curricula, and media representation

Braver

Support and promote community-controlled and Indigenous governed organisations

Image: 2016 National Reconciliation Week Poster

10. Get your facts first-hand

Get your facts first-hand

Inaccurate portrayals, negative stereotypes, and under-investigation and reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander issues means if you want the whole story you should start at the source.

Safer

Inform yourself with First Nations produced and created content and news. Check out and follow NITV, Koori Mail, National Indigenous Times, IndigenousX, ABC Indigenous and find your local broadcaster via First Nations Media.

Braver

Speak out against and prosecute blatant racism and misinformation in mainstream media reporting.

Image: Koori Mail Newspape Front Page

11. Act to protect First Nations cultures

Act to protect First Nations cultures

Knowing, understanding and being strong in culture influences the health and well-being of First Nations peoples. Practicing culture offers mental, economic and physical strength.

Safer

Host a Reconciliation Film Club screening in your home, workplace, or school.

Support listen to and distribute music from Indigenous artists on IndigiTUBE and Spotify playlists like NIMA , Original Storytellers,

Braver

Support and protect Indigenous protocols in the Arts. Report cultural theft or infringements.

Image: 2011 National Reconciliation Week Poster

12. Support economic development

Support economic development

Discrimination in employment, education and housing contribute to poverty today, but its roots go deep into generations of stolen wages, stolen land, historic exclusion, and discrimination.

Safer

Understand the historical causes of poverty and economic disempowerment through stolen wages dispossession, discrimination and exclusion.

Braver

Find out ways you can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander economic development and businesses via Supply Nation when searching for contractors, suppliers and products.

Image: 2012 National Reconciliation Week Poster

13. Understand political representation

Understand political representation

Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples have been fighting for a political voice, and structural changes like treaty,  for more than 100 years.

Safer

Learn the long history of representative bodies and calls for treaty.

Braver

Support current calls by First Peoples such as treaties, constitutional reform, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Image: 2017 National Reconciliation Week Poster

14. Challenge our leaders to take action on justice

Challenge our leaders to take action on justice

Proportionally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the most incarcerated people on the planet. There have been more than 470 who have died in police and prison custody since 1991.

Safer

Learn and understand the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the justice systems.

Braver

Stand with First Peoples to lower incarceration rates, rates of family violence, and children in out of home care. Support and share the Change the Record and Raise the Age campaigns.

Image: 2019 National Reconciliation Week Poster

15. Buy from First Nations businesses

Buy from First Nations Businesses

Purchase Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art or products only from Indigenous-owned businesses.

Safer

Learn about the damage caused by casual or deliberate cultural appropriation. Follow and support businesses like @TradingBlak.

Braver

Call out exploitation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, culture, people and businesses.

Every Wednesday #wearitblakwednesday, wearing or sharing something you have purchased from a Blak business.

Image: Trading Blak

16. Defend Land Rights and Native Title

Land Rights, Native Title and Country

Australia’s First Peoples have defended their lands and waters, and asserted their rights to their homelands since the beginning of colonisation. Land justice is hard fought for and must be vigilantly guarded.
Safer
Educate yourself about the details and history of First Nations Land Rights and Native Title in Australia.
Braver
Find out about Land Justice efforts and advocacy in your local area. Appropriately leverage your skills and sphere of influence in support. Image: Gurindji Handback. Photo Mervyn Bishop, courtesy AGNSW
17. Acknowledging Country

Acknowledging Country

Acknowledging Country shows you accept and understand that no matter where you are across this nation, you are on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands. It is a cultural practice, and also a political act. 

Safer

Know whose Country you are on – resources like the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia are a useful starting point, but go further. Know the difference between and Ackowledgement of Country and a Welcome to Country.

Braver

Including the name of Country when posting letters and parcels. Encourage businesses you buy from to add an address section for this on ordering forms.

Image: 2013 National Reconciliation Week Poster

18. Care for Country

Care for Country

Reconciliation News edition 44 cover Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have stewarded, nurtured and cared for Australia’s diverse environment and waterways for over 80,000 years. Environmental knowledge and activism must prioritise First Nations right to manage and self-determine their own Country. 
Safer
Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives systems of knowledge on our natural environment, including Seed Mob, the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, Firesticks Alliance, and Yerrabingin.
Braver
Learn about how climate change is going to directly affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Stand up in support for those it’s already affecting. Image: Cover of Reconciliation News, edition 44. 
19. Speak up for languages

Speak up for languages

In this together posterLanguage is inseparable from culture, and culture is empowerment. There are more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, including about 800 dialects. 

Safer

Know your local area language(s) of the Traditional Custodians of the land on which you live. Where available, organise for a Traditional Custodian to teach some of this language to your workplace or community group.

Braver

Actively support First Nations language revival programs. Know and use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander placenames  and petition councils and governments to use placenames . Make First Nations languages visible in public spaces.

Image: 2020 National Reconciliation Week Poster

20. Get involved beyond NRW2021

NRW2021 and beyond

Safer

Find an NRW2021 event in your area – or better yet, host your own. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Post an Acknowledgement of Country on 27 May 2021, to mark the opening of National Reconciliation Week. 

Braver

Take these actions and reflect on how you are going to move from safe to brave on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, beyond NRW2021. Share with your community, family and friends. Ask others to take their awareness, and turn it into action on reconciliation. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.