Don't keep history a mystery

22 May 2018

The theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is “Don’t keep history a mystery”. National Reconciliation Week gives us the opportunity to learn about and celebrate Australia’s Shared History.

Cath Brokenborough

Executive Lead First Nations Engagement

“Shared History” means that we understand, acknowledge and respect the fact that Australia was occupied, and the land and sea resources were sustainably cultivated and managed, by Australia’s First Nation’s peoples, being the many groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people indigenous to this country. With each passing year, there is further scientific evidence of the length, depth and complexity of the unbroken cultural, social and scientific knowledge and practices of these First Nation’s peoples – currently over 60,000 years of occupation and custodianship of Australia.

The land and sea plays a significant part in each Indigenous person’s identity, spirituality, cultural and family connection. Lendlease’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) acknowledges and respects this fact. Respect and Relationships are a foundation of our Elevate RAP, and we know that when we get this bit right, it allows us to successfully partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve equal access to education, employment opportunities and support to grow strong Indigenous businesses.

“Shared History” also means that we recognise that there was a brutal colonisation which dispossessed the First Nation’s Peoples of their land, which killed and enslaved thousands, which banned the speaking of Indigenous languages, the traditional cultural practices and beliefs, which took the children away from Indigenous families so they could be “westernised”, and so the culture and family bonds of Indigenous people have been strained and weakened over the majority of years of Non-Indigenous occupation of this country – but not lost.

This doesn’t mean that we are looking to “blame” anyone for that history, but if we do not accept that this occurred, it will remain a stumbling block to achieving reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people in this country. Knowing this, and talking about this truth, does help us to understand the trauma and subjugation that Indigenous people experienced for over 200 years, and how this continues to impact Indigenous people today. “Truth-telling” about this part of our history is an important part of the healing process for Indigenous people, and equally important to the future growth and harmony of our country.

Indigenous people don’t want to dwell on what we call the “deficit” language of disadvantage and the negatives of the past, we do want to celebrate Indigenous excellence in all its forms and focus on what can be achieved to counteract past injustices. This is why it is equally important to protect, share and accept as our own history, all the wonderful stories, languages, dance, art, knowledge and skills of our Indigenous citizens.

“Shared History” also means that we should recognise and celebrate the contributions and rights of the many different streams of migrant cultures that form the fabric of our modern Australian society.

Reconciling our “Shared History” is about Nation-building, about the growth of Australia into a unified, equal and safe society that accepts and celebrates all the differences we have, and recognises and harnesses the strengths these bring.

Reconciliation is important to Lendlease because we develop, live, work and play on the lands of the Traditional Indigenous owners.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) shows how Lendlease people can practically acknowledge and celebrate Indigenous culture and our shared history, and promote reconciliation by working collaboratively with communities to co-create and co-deliver the best places for people, and incorporate Human Rights in the way we do business.


Held annually from 27 May until 3 June, National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about  Australia's shared history and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.