Claire Beattie: What steps can First Nations allies take towards reconciliation?

As Australia celebrates NAIDOC week WOB Cultural Diversity Member Claire Beattie discusses what steps First Nations allies can take towards reconciliation, from helping more Indigenous women into leadership positions to buying from Aboriginal businesses.

Gupa gaka Yota Yorta walker engatha Claire. I'm a proud Yorta Yorta woman. My name is Claire and my totem is a long necked turtle. I tell people it means I stick my neck out for Mob and that I've got a hard shell if you want to have a crack. It’s perfect for the industry I work in, which is as an executive director in school infrastructure in the Department of Education.

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! And the theme for Reconciliation Week - another very important week in our Australian calendar held from 27 May to 3 June every year - was Be Brave and Make Change. 

That's exactly what I need you to do as an ally to First Nations people. I need you to be brave, I need you to speak up as an ally, think about what it is to be a good human, what it is to be a friend, what it is to walk with us in the spirit of reconciliation.

Now is a great time for individuals and organistions think about procurement, employment, how you walk with First Nations people, your acknowledgement of country, how you create cultural and psychologically safe environments for your First Nations employees and how you work with Aboriginal businesses.

This year, we have the opportunity to work together to ensure that more women are in senior roles for the economic prosperity of females. We also have the ability to make change in terms of the economic prosperity of First Nations people.

When you're buying things - stationery, paper, catering - go to and see a list of Aboriginal businesses. Aboriginal businesses are the biggest employees of Aboriginal people. It is a very simple, very easy change to make.

I'm not talking about mass procurement, like we do in infrastructure. I'm talking about daily thinking. If you need to buy sandwiches for that next conference, why wouldn't you engage with an Aboriginal catering company? If you buy and procure from Aboriginal businesses you are adding to Aboriginal employment, Aboriginal economic outcomes.

So ask yourself: What are you going to do? 

Will you step into the space of Aboriginal procurement? I hope so.

Will you step into learning an authentic acknowledgement of country and not making a tokenistic gesture by reading something off a page? I hope so.

Will you be curious about the strength that comes from the oldest living culture in the world, our First Nations culture here in Australia? Will you step into that space in a respectful manner and walk with us, learn from us and acknowledge the past? I hope so.

Happy NAIDOC Week everyone. 


Find out more about WOB's Cultural Diversity Committee HERE

  Listen to Claire talk about reconciliation in a podcast HERE
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