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A Journey of Hope

In the period post the failed Voice to Parliament referendum, I spoke to several First Nations people about the impact this had on them. Amongst the common themes of disappointment, sadness, and hurt, there was also hope and positivity.


Through my role at the Committee for Geelong, I have the fortune of sitting on the Geelong Aboriginal Employment Taskforce. There are a number of First Nations business owners who sit on this Taskforce, including Reece Dumbell of Cameron Wellness Centre.


I was sitting next to Reece, a Minang man, at a Taskforce meeting earlier in the year and the topic of the referendum came up. While Reece shared his disappointment, what was different was his overall positivity on the direction we are heading as a society.


We had first met over 20 years ago playing a season of local football together. He asked me if I had known he was Aboriginal back then.


I had not.  


“Exactly. Because I never felt comfortable telling groups in fear of the response.”


This journey - from someone who had hid their heritage, to a proud First Nations man and business owner - Reece pointed out to me, was a reflection on the advances we have made. It demonstrates the steps we are taking towards reconciliation, and the increased celebration of the World’s oldest continuing culture in our country.


This is not to say we don’t have a long way to go; to better understand, to better support, to better celebrate, and to better educate ourselves on the uncomfortable truths of Australia’s colonisation.


But sometimes on a journey, it is good to pause and take stock.


To look back at the successes we have had along the way, however small, is helpful in avoiding overwhelm by the enormity of the task ahead of us.


This reflection offers inspiration to keep moving forward.


To bring others on the journey with us.


To keep the fire burning.


Michael Johnston

CEO, Committee for Djilang

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