• Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine says truth-telling is needed here. (NITV)Source: NITV
How one Uluru statement recommendation - truth-telling - might work in the Australian context is being explored.
Liz Deep-Jones

11 Oct 2018 - 11:17 AM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2018 - 11:20 AM

A forum was held in Sydney this week to discuss what truth-telling might look like in Australia, and how to engage politicians and the public to make it happen.

More than 100 people attended the Truth Telling Symposium at Barangaroo on Tuesday which opened with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country.

Speakers at the event included former social justice commissioner Tom Calma; Indigenous mental health expert Helen Milroy; and Marie Wilson, the head of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Karen Mundine, the CEO of Reconciliation Australia, told NITV News the gathering was an opportunity to think about truth-telling in Australia and to develop a set of guiding principles to help make it happen.

"What does truth look like in this country, but more importantly what do we do with that truth? What do we do with this information? How do we make ourselves a better society?"

She said many non-Indigenous people do not understand “the true history” of colonisation and the Stolen Generations.

“They don't know of people being moved off their homelands,” she said.

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“They don't know of people being separated from families being denied their spirituality, their culture.

“All they know is what they've read in the paper and they don't necessarily understand why we are calling for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

CEO of the Healing Foundation Richard Weston also believes truth-telling is a much needed step.

"I think for us healing is an important element, and one of the big contributors is to be able to tell your story," he said.

"And what an opportunity for non-Indigenous Australians to actually hear those stories and accept that historical truth, and now that would be a huge step towards becoming a reconciled nation.

"I think the journey is just as important as the destination so I think what it can do for us as a country is bring us together, make us more united and build understanding."

He said it is difficult but important work.

"It takes the courage of the Stolen Generations to tell their stories in front of people - to tell those stories over and over again. I think it also takes courage to hear those stories, accept those stories and then start to think about well how can we make this right? How do we fix this?" 

Dr Wilson said there were some things Australia could learn from Canada's experience in approaching reconciliation.

“I think one of the most valuable things we did was to convene  and create space," she said.

"Your country like ours is a country of vast distances and it’s really easy for people to feel isolated or alone in their endeavours or unaware of great things being done elsewhere."

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