The word ‘reconcile’ is a verb meaning ‘to heal relations with a person or group’.

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme acknowledges the active nature of the word, encouraging us to Be Brave as we tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation, so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians.

Recently, Orange Sky announced the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Racheal Higgins is a pivotal member of Orange Sky’s RAP Working Group who developed the plan. Racheal is a proud Zenadth Kes woman and, among many other things, is an Orange Sky volunteer in Brisbane. You can read more about Racheal’s story here

Racheal told us what reconciliation means to her. “Reconciliation is about listening to one another’s perspectives, proactively educating ourselves and others and having the empathy to walk in someone else’s shoes,” she said.

To Racheal, truth-telling is a crucial instrument of reconciliation.

“We must acknowledge and accept the historical atrocities that have occurred and the resulting impact on First Nations peoples to provide a pathway toward healing and positively moving forward into the future.”

Rachel is pictured (on the right) with kids, Lily and Zane. 

In the context of our work, homelessness disproportionately impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Orange Sky recognises our responsibility to provide equitable access to our services for our First Nations friends doing it tough, as well as strengthening our commitment towards a reconciled Australia in all that we do. 

Orange Sky Board Member, Paula Holden shared with us the ongoing importance of reconciliation in our work. “Seeing people for who they are and building connection is at the heart of Orange Sky and is also the essence of reconciliation,” Paula said. “For Orange Sky to serve our community and operationalise our values, reconciliation must be at the forefront.”

Orange Sky is strengthened by the voices and contributions of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters. Our work in remote communities began in Lockhart River in 2017, with regular shifts now operating in seven remote communities across Australia. 

Paula noted that remote service expansion cannot be rushed, “forming localised relationships that are founded in cultural respect and patience.” Though she acknowledged that more needs to be done; “At a board level, we need better First Nations representation”. 

Orange Sky recently launched our RAP to solidify our commitment to working alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to improve health and social outcomes and address inequities. As an organisation that brings together thousands of Australians from all walks of life every week, we recognise our obligation to prioritise reconciliation in all that we do, and acknowledge there is much more work to be done.

Racheal’s hope is for an Australia that is brave enough to own up to its biases and stand against racism. “I’d like to see my future grandchildren and all other Indigenous children not be burdened by racism and the stigma that still surrounds being a First Nations person in this country.”

To learn more about Orange Sky’s commitment to reconciliation, connect with our Reconciliation Action Plan.