Other Nations were kept together as a community whereas Indigenous Australians were deliberately dispersed and traumatised. Cultural Knowledge, Ceremony and Rituals could not be passed on as it had been done for generations previously. Currently, Aboriginal Australians have no political Treaty or Agreement with the Australian Government, nor is there any mention within the 1901 Australian Constitution that substantiates their position within their own Country. Apart from Native Title Claims, there is little political base within the Westminster Legal system of Australia to negotiate for complete acknowledgement of Indigenous Rights to Country, whether it be Land and/or Sea. This needs to be rectified.
I found that for Reconciliation to occur it must stand on an equal footing with the minority. Changing Government policy and law offered an opportunity for the dominant community, in all nations, to learn from the wisdom of First Nation peoples, and walk with them. A few countries were working on Truth and Reconciliation Action Plans. Some First Nation peoples viewed this as a temporary act, to appease the guilt-ridden dominant population. Even so, despite Government rhetoric and unfulfilled political promises, Aboriginals continued to pursue acts of kindness; emphasise the importance of caring and sharing; truth telling; forgiveness; advocacy; justice; holistic healing; valuing reciprocity; respecting the dignity in each individual and being responsible and nurturing their bodies, their community and their natural environment.
This study tour has shown me the extent of similarities between Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. It has challenged me as I have observed and heard creative and passionate ways other Nations have developed to help their communities re-claim that which was lost to colonisation. This also challenged me to critically reflect about my work now and my future. Since returning I have given four major presentations highlighting the extent of this study tour. I am in the process of networking overseas contacts with Aboriginal communities.
I thank the Churchill Fellowship and my employer Australian Catholic University for making this tour possible for an extended period. Both funded my time away to make the best experience I could have so I could bring back worthwhile and beneficial findings to Australian Indigenous peoples, society, academia and the workforce. I now know what lies beyond the horizon I peered at, over 58 years ago.
Awards and Honours
- 2019 awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for service to community health.