The journey towards reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians is ongoing, and as Chair of Telstra’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, I’m proud Telstra recognises the need to be honest about its history as a company in order to build and strengthen connections moving forward.

With this always in mind, we recognise the importance of National Reconciliation Week, to foster a better relationship between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. National Reconciliation Week is book-ended by the same dates every year, 27 May and 3 June, to commemorate two historical milestones in the reconciliation journey – the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court’s Mabo decision.

Recent research commissioned by Reconciliation Australia shows that 80 per cent of Australians in the general community and 91 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples believe it’s important to undertake formal truth-telling processes. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.

Australia’s history is marred by the struggles of our First Nations’ people. In order to move forward to reconciliation, we must acknowledge the truths of our difficult history to move on and create a bright future for all Australians – one where everyone can thrive. That’s what this year’s National Reconciliation Week is all about.

The theme of this year’s National Reconciliation Week is Grounded in Truth: Walk Together With Courage. It’s a simple yet powerful message, one that carries with it a charge for all Australians. In order to achieve meaningful reconciliation, we must build our relationship and grow trust with truth-telling. By grounding our bonds in these truths, we will walk together with courage to fulfill the promise of our future.

Telstra understands its role in the nation’s past, which is why it is committed to help shape the future. CEO Andrew Penn says that this recognition is key to participating in reconciliation.

“Telstra in one form or another can, in fact, trace its technology origins back to the advent of the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870s.

“Its construction was not without incident and impact on Aboriginal peoples. For some, it was the start of an irreversible disruption to the traditional way of life. It is important to acknowledge this history.

“We have a compelling responsibility and an important role to play as a facilitator for economic development and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, no matter where they are across the nation.”

The Telstra 2018-2021 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) helps facilitate the organisation’s reconciliation journey. It commits to the development of respectful relationships and creating meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Telstra’s vision will be achieved by harnessing the strengths of the organisation to build digital futures, providing employment and opportunities to lift economic participation, and creating a culturally responsive and engaged organisation that is imbued with the values and history of First Nations peoples.

This National Reconciliation Week, let’s walk together with courage for the future.

For more information, visit Reconciliation Australia.