Why Reconciliation Action Programs are important for our industry – and all Australians

Felicity Kelly
By Felicity Kelly | 8 June 2022
Felicity Kelly

Felicity Kelly, People & Culture Manager, Half Dome

I live and work on the land of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. I recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities and acknowledge their Elders' past, present and emerging.

As a non-indigenous Australian that has lived here my entire life, it was only once I entered adulthood that I recognised how uneducated I was about the truth of Australia's Indigenous history.

Growing up and throughout my school years, I was lucky enough to learn about some of our First Nations peoples' traditional ceremonies, customs, and storytelling. However, what was missing was an understanding of what truly happened when European settlers first arrived on Australian shores, the injustices that have occurred throughout history and continue to occur today, and how my life experience as a non-Indigenous Australian differs from our First Nations people because of this history.

More recently, in my People & Culture roles in the media industry, I've recognised the opportunity I have to be able to help others in their understanding and education of Australia's history. I'm passionate about helping to build workplace cultures that are inclusive, diverse, supportive and create equal opportunities for all. Currently, less than 1% of people in the advertising and media industries identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, so there is a lot more work to be done to create opportunities and an equitable work environment for current and future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. That's why creating a Reconciliation Action Plan for our industry is the first important step. 

I'm proud to be part of the IMAA's Reconciliation Action Plan working group. I see this as an opportunity to further my understanding and knowledge of what reconciliation means for Australia to take tangible steps toward change within my agency and advocate for change across the broader industry.

All significant changes start with small steps, and I'm looking forward to learning from my other working group members and listening to the experiences of our First Nations people. Being able to help my colleagues, friends and family in their education and learning is also really important to me. I'll be able to help people become braver, call out racism and injustices when they see them and advocate for a better Australia, all positive steps in working towards reconciliation.

It's exciting that through the IMAA, independent agencies can advocate for and influence change, which is sometimes only afforded to the big players in our industry. Collaboration between people from different businesses, backgrounds and life experiences will only strengthen our ability to bring this plan to life.

There is a long road ahead of us to achieve reconciliation in Australia. Still, I believe the first step is education and understanding, which is what the IMAA's RAP sets out to achieve. We can't work to change what we don't understand, and we must educate ourselves on the experiences of First Nations people throughout history and today and what our part is to play as non-indigenous Australians.

Reconciliation Australia sums it up well: "Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of us all as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples.”

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