There are numerous views, suggestions and supposed solutions on the question of how to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We have the perspectives of Indigenous leaders, individuals and communities. We have the findings of experts in the field, the voices in the public and private sectors, the thoughts of teachers and students, the plans of politicians, the opinions of the public at large. We have symbolic actions and interventionist strategies. But for now, the divide persists.
It’s a divide that stems from dispossession, a dispossession that continues to gain exposure both locally and abroad, but whose effects – the ongoing disadvantage to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – remain with us. As long as we have this divide, there will be debate around the approaches, programs and funding for Indigenous affairs, welfare and education.
The programs offered by Building Bridges are designed to address this divide, providing pathways for Indigenous Australians to access resources to achieve their ambitions, and conducting effective cultural awareness programs for non-Indigenous Australians. Through knowledge we can develop greater understanding and insight, build stronger relationships, and create more sophisticated programs for education, public policy and the private sector.
Educators recognise that this has been an area of neglect and are looking to rectify the situation. The corporate sector is making a greater commitment to communities, with an increasing number of companies developing reconciliation plans and cultural awareness policies, and providing their staff with the appropriate training. So the will is there. We understand the need to educate ourselves, to be aware of our different perspectives in regard to both the past and the present.
By considering our diverse backgrounds and strengthening the connections we already have, we can better develop insights into ourselves, our country and our cultures. Because before you walk across a bridge, you need to build one.
“more than a deep, sincere regret”