‘Grounded in Truth. Walk Together with Courage’

PHD Australia head of content and social Joanne Liddell
By PHD Australia head of content and social Joanne Liddell | 4 June 2019

Over the last few years, we have seen sporting organisations and major events incorporating ‘Welcome to Country’ – but how much do we really know about the significance of this practice?

I recently had the opportunity to attend Cultural Awareness training with facilitator John Briggs, and, despite growing up in Australia, I realised just how little I knew about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, people and communities.

I didn’t know what to expect walking in that day and I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it.

It was thought provoking and at times confronting, but was delivered in a meaningful and compelling way. John is passionate about indigenous culture and inclusion, and was quickly able to establish a safe learning environment where we could have open and honest conversations.

The course content covered topics such as: Australian History (Indigenous Exclusion to Inclusion); Diversity of Indigenous cultures, communities and people; Taking the learnings into day to day scenarios, the aim being to ‘remove the eggshells & focusing on the roles we can play in the context of our company RAP commitments.

This training is just one component of our ongoing RAP journey for PHD and the broader Omnicom Media Group. Along with acknowledging and supporting key events we are offering employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and we are also looking for ways we can work with more Indigenous media and suppliers.

As individuals and businesses there is so much we can learn from one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Aboriginal Australians have been designers and inventors for thousands of years.

A well-known example of this is David Unaipon, who is featured on our $50 note. Unaipon invented the electric shears in 1909, helping transform the agricultural industry and shaping Australia’s socio and economic development.

Aboriginal peoples of Australia have a huge amount of knowledge about our country and a strong connection to the land, a relationship with the environment that is incredibly sustainable.

Further, in Indigenous culture, methods of communication focus deeply on consultation rather than structured frameworks.

There are five key interconnected elements of Indigenous culture: Land, family, law, ceremony and language. These principles have guided a way of living for thousands of years.

Alongside these elements, Indigenous culture values Community. Aboriginal poet Lionel Fogarty said, ‘Homeland communities hold the language, the culture’.

In our ‘always on’ and globalised world we can lose sight of the importance of being connected to our local communities. Indigenous culture teaches us the importance of remembering where we came from.

I encourage more people to take the time to self-learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, people and communities.

Taking real steps to discover and acknowledge our shared history will help progress the objective of closing the gap towards equality, and we can start to work towards a unified country.

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