WHGNE was involved in the Cultural Safety Planning project across 2020-21, prior to introducing this practice into the organisatoin’s regular “All Staff” meetings. This project saw the establishment of a WHGNE staff working group to work alongside a First Nations advisor from Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation to audit the workplace and prepare an action plan. We continue to make progress against items in this plan and refine the plan further, ensuring culturally appropriate and inclusive actions are embedded into our ways of working.
In June 2021 WHGNE CEO Amanda Kelly met with Fiona Armstrong, the (then) CEO of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), to discuss ways we could work more closely together. Amanda and Fiona talked through Acknowledgement of Country and established that our organisations were in a similar place, in embedding cultural safety across the organisation. CAHA staff choose something relevant to Indigenous culture to research and present back to the team. Such as a song in language, piece of Indigenous research, history of traditional owners.
The idea was raised at WHGNE’s July All Staff meeting and agreed upon as being included as a standing item in future All Staff meetings, with the task rotating around the team. The team agreed that one of the key elements of this practice was that it would be up to each individual to do this research, and to not rely on bringing in First Nations people for information or advice that is often freely available online.
We acknowledge the burden on First Nations Australians to ‘explain’ reconciliation and their culture is enormous and that it is our responsibility, as feminists invested in intersectionality, to do the work, explore ideas and be inspired. It is not our role to add to the work of already over-burdened people who continue to grapple with the trauma and impacts of colonisation.
“The most important thing about the way we’re trying to bring cultural learning into our daily practice is the sheer practice of creating space and taking time for understanding, reflection and attempts at deep connection. There’s a deeply political element of this, to me, as our colonial history has conditioned us to believe that these things require neither space nor time. My learnings thus far have forced me to contemplate how my very existence is entangled in the colonial project and sit with the discomfort of that as a first tiny, imperfect step towards collective healing and greater understanding of, connection with and care for First Nations communities, friends and neighbours.”
– WHGNE team member
“As a migrant to Australia, having the opportunity to be part of this practice has enabled opportunities for me to broaden my understanding and deepen my knowledge of First Nations People and culture. It has brought me to a key point of reflection about my heritage and how I now hold the tension of knowing that although my forbearers were colonised, they were also colonisers of these lands.”
– WHGNE team member