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Celebrating National Reconciliation Week through action

20 MAY 2020

Across our Australian operations, we recognise and celebrate National Reconciliation Week

Across our Australian operations, we recognise and celebrate National Reconciliation Week – an important time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to push towards reconciliation together. 

This year’s celebration was reinforced by our first Reconciliation Action Plan. We launched this in October 2018 to help build meaningful and sustainable relationships with, and opportunities for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.  

This year’s theme, Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage, gave us the chance to keep focusing on ideas of reconciliation and historical acceptance, and importantly, put these ideas into practice through relationship-building activities in the communities we operate in – creating positive legacies for years to come.

To mark the week, we acknowledged the strong relationship we have with the traditional owners of Groote Eylandt, the Warnindilyakwa people. We hosted a range of activities, including traditional spear-making workshops, cultural dance performances, a touch-footy match, ‘Bush Medijina’ market stalls and an on-country bush trip and workshop tour. 

Many of our employees joined in, as well as people from the community and members of the Eylandt Band. Highlights included hearing from Russell Wurrawilya, a senior traditional owner, who spoke about his long working life with GEMCO, and the unveiling of a special plaque in the shape of Groote Eylandt. 

Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (IMC)
At IMC, we heard from Paul Knight, CEO of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council. He spoke to our teams about the Aboriginal culture and Heritage services the Council provides, as well as environmental management activities. These services play a crucial role in advocating on behalf of the local Aboriginal community as custodians of the region in which we operate. 

The week was also made special by welcoming Jade Kennedy, Chair of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council. Over a traditional lunch, he shared insights into the local community, stories about ‘warra’, and how coal was traditionally used to line canoes. 

We support the Mila Foundation through a community investment funding program at Collie High School to allow for Indigenous high school students to participate in the Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program which supports cultural immersion, build leadership skills and provides opportunities around education and career choices. During National Reconciliation Week we supported their event, which included a three-on-three streetball (basketball) game, truthsharing and a DJ. 

To mark National Reconciliation Week at Cannington, we dined under the stars with a specifically created (and delicious) Indigenous menu. The team ate everything from crocodile and mango sausages, to buffalo burgers and wild boar stir fry. During the week, we put up posters around the site and village, with words from our employees explaining what reconciliation means to them. 

We hosted two events in Perth to celebrate the traditional owners of the region, the Wadjuk Noongar people. The first was a screening of a local documentary, The Coolbaroo Club, followed by a Q&A with co-writer and producer Steve Kinnane, a Miriuwung Marda-Marda man from the East Kimberly of Western Australia. 

For our second event, we had the privilege of listening to Noongar artist, Phil Walley Stack, and his talented band. Everyone was moved by Phil’s heartfelt lyrics and tales of Noongar country.