CEO of Reconciliation Australia, Justin Mohamed, writes for Mamamia…
Reconciliation Australia’s vision is for everyone to wake to a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. Last week after watching and listening to the stories surrounding Adam Goodes unfold, it appeared to me that this goal was well out of our reach. But I was wrong.
As Adam Goodes chose to take himself out of the spotlight, the need to speak out about what had happened, and the ongoing impact that this could have for First Australians grew in urgency.
Unfortunately, I know first-hand what racism is and what it feels like. Last week I listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders recall stories of the old days, when they and their families were treated as second class citizens. What I thought about the Goodes situation, was part of our history had been drop-kicked into our present. Like many Aboriginal people around the country, I disappointed and spurred into action. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wanted to reach out to Adam, give him a pat on the back and let him know that somehow, we would get through it. But what gave me heart was that we weren’t alone.
People all across the nation wanted to take action and looked for ways to show their support.
By Wednesday last week, Richmond Football Club had demonstrated its leadership in reconciliation. As a club, they had made the decision to wear their 2015 Indigenous Round guernsey in the clash against Hawthorn. Shortly after this announcement, Western Bulldogs did the same thing. Players, managers and coaches from across the league came out in a strong sign of support for Goodes. Melbourne Demons players taped the three colours of the Aboriginal flag around their forearms – a simple yet very symbolic show of support.
See some of the powerful I Stand With Adam images. (Post continues after gallery.)
Eight AFL clubs have Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) and we are proud of the leadership the league has shown towards reconciliation in Australia. RAPs have proven an effective means for all sectors of the Australian community to contribute to reconciliation and the leadership of the AFL in this regard is just one example of the change happening through RAPs across the corporate, government and community sectors.
It wasn’t just the AFL community that responded in support of Adam. People stopped cities with flash mobs, children across the country took out their markers and wrote Goodes’ number 37 on their upper arms and people started conversations about the far reaching issues around the dinner table. Reconciliation Australia also joined with other not for profit organsiations and some of the countries corporate leaders to voice their support for Goodes in a joint statement.