NAIDOC Week: Always Was Always Will Be.

12 Nov 2020

NAIDOC Week’s theme recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this Country for over 65,000 years.

Cath Brokenborough

Executive Lead First Nations Engagement

First Nations Peoples are spiritually and culturally connected to this country which is criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, navigators, engineers, farmers, scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists. They were also the first place-makers, which we explain in our new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) titled Country, Truth and our Shared Story.

We believe that, when Lendlease works in equal partnership with First Nations peoples, we will be able to reflect places of deeper meaning, connection and belonging. Australia has the world’s oldest stories, contained in the language, dance, art and ceremonies – these are our songlines. 

The First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremony and invented unique technologies. We built and engineered structures for shelter, trapping fish, eels, fire stick farming, crop planting and other land management practices provided other food sources – the first structures on Earth - predating well-known sites such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge. 

Our culture and practices have been formed of this place and for this place and the thousands of generations of intimate knowledge of Country enabled us to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.

Always Was, Always Will Be theme acknowledges that hundreds of Nations and our cultures covered this continent. All were managing the land - the biggest estate on earth - to sustainably provide for their future.

NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 - with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.

Our coastal Nations watched and interacted with at least 36 contacts made by Europeans prior to 1770. Many of them resulting in the charting of the northern, western and southern coastlines – of our lands and our waters.

NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations. As individuals, and as an organisation, we must have the courage to acknowledge both the culture and the history of place, to learn and grow from the past.
 
As a Property company, Lendlease is in an unique position to collaborate in equal partnership with First Nations people to incorporate their voices, culture, knowledge, talent and wisdom into the built environment and promote these aspects through the ongoing activation and uses of the places that we build. 

This is why Acknowledging Country, history, culture and truth in place is central to our RAP vision beyond 2020: ‘Australia’s First Nations truth and our country’s shared story connects us to place.’ 

Telling the truth of place will drive an understanding and acceptance of past wrongs and the impacts on First Nations people and create new conversations and tangible public resources and assets to enable people to question and challenge the perpetuation of a white view of history, a deficit view of First Nations people, and the resulting racism and inequality that arises.

Restoring a First Nations lens to place-making will create new opportunities for the end users of these developments – the people who live, work, play and shop in these places – to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and celebrate their cultures, to learn the true nature, name and meaning of these places, to create a better connection and sense of belonging and unity in these places, people to people, and people to Country.

Core to our RAP and the operations of our company on the lands and waters of the First Nations people of Australia is that we acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respect to them and their Elders past and present. 

As a business that works across many locations, we have a responsibility to listen, learn and walk alongside First Nations people to ensure our activities support their ongoing continuation of connection to their land, waters, cultures, traditions and languages.

We value their custodianship of 65,000 years.

Always Was, Always Will Be.

Cath Brokenborough is a proud Wiradjuri woman and Executive Lead First Nations Engagement at Lendlease, where she has led the development of three Reconciliation Action Plans, including our current Elevate-level RAP.