The lucky country? As Australians, we value friends, freedom and a fair go. We’re willing to chip in and help a mate; after all, we’re living in ‘the lucky country’! But there’s a situation in Australia that seems at odds with this national character. While many Australians enjoy a great quality of life, there’s a disturbing difference between the wellbeing and opportunities enjoyed by non-Indigenous people compared to Indigenous Australians. I call this a wound in the spirit of our nation.

What’s really going on? I spent 2010 listening to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across the nation to find out what’s behind this wound and the associated disadvantages many Indigenous people experience. It became clear to me that a lot of time, money and effort has been spent trying to fix the ‘problem’.  But I discovered that despite this good will, effort and funding, we’re not seeing the positive changes our nation needs. So I found myself asking, “Could we look at this from another angle? Could we start by focusing on people and not problems? Can we think about how we approach one another before attempting to do or fix anything? Would this change the outcomes?”

A different approach. It’s become clear that rather than doing more things, we actually need to do things differently. We need a new approach that’s all about the the way Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians relate and connect. This approach also needs to involve non-Indigenous Australians examining themselves, their attitudes, their behaviour and their part in this country’s story. We’re all in this together. It’s our story.

The first step – “I WILL…LISTEN, LEARN, LIVE.” We can think that ‘doing something’ to address Indigenous disadvantage should look a certain way, like remote aid or service delivery. We want to fix, to solve and to save. But this can lead us to fall into the habit of approaching problems with ready-made solutions, as if we have all the answers. My journey so far has highlighted the importance of listening to Indigenous people and learning about our shared history, our rich cultures and our identity as Australians. I believe that as we all grow in our understanding of ourselves and each other we’ll begin to find ways to move forward, but this time together. I believe every Australian can play a part in addressing the wound in our nation. At Australians Together, we’d like to see all Australians become part of a movement towards a better future together.

As a first step, why not connect with ”I WILL…LISTEN, LEARN, LIVE”. #iwilllistenlearnlive #betterfuturetogether

Stewart Bogle is the Executive Director of Australians Together. Find out more about Australians Together here.