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The buds of reconciliation
Phil Calvert

Recently, I had the privilege of listening to Australian journalist Stan Grant and Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour speak at length about reconciliation.

Stan, a Wiradjuri man, spoke passionately about the grievances and sense of historical injustice that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel as a result of the dispossession, interruption of culture, and intergenerational trauma. He recounted the stories across generations of his family and helped me better understand the significant impact this has had, and continues to have, on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I have a profound belief that many Australian physiotherapists have an interest in the same thing—really understanding the impact of the past, and making a difference for the future.

What struck me about Ahmed’s talk was just how valuable and how important it is to ‘walk the talk’. This year represents 25 years of formal commitment by Australia Post to improving the social and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australia Post initially took baby steps, but it took them consciously and consistently.

I can often see the buds of a more overt and constant approach to reconciliation when I move about in physiotherapy. I see many of our community of physiotherapists quietly seeking guidance about what to do to make a difference.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee is leading the process of working on our Reconciliation Action Plan. to improve health outcomes and close the gap. I remain confident that, as an ‘institution’, the APA is actively, not just passively, supporting reconciliation.

In the coming 12 months, I ask that you ‘walk the talk’.

If your first step needs to be a fuller understanding, of the nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and being more culturally competent, then let us know. This is as important a part of PD as many other learnings. A key dimension of reconciliation is for all Australians to understand and accept the wrongs of the past. It is important to make amends and ensure the wrongs are not repeated.

Over the coming months, we will be moving through our membership, talking about these issues and especially about pragmatic things we can do to make a difference.

I hope that the notion of the buds of reconciliation being widespread is true. I want to play my part by cultivating the garden. If you have other ideas about how we can play our role in reconciliation, let me know.


Marcus Dripps, APAM
APA National President

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