This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week urges us to towards action. We asked four First Nations property people from AMP Capital, QIC, DLG Shape and Scentre Group to share their thoughts.
National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to reconciliation.
The dates for National Reconciliation Week – 27 May to 3 June – commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
This year’s National Reconciliation Week calls for Australians to make reconciliation more than a word, and to instead take brave action on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. So, if people in Australia’s property industry do one thing to take action on reconciliation, what should that be?
Binowee Bayles, Head of Indigenous Programs, AMP Capital
In Australia, we are fortunate enough to have First Nations Elders with ancient knowledge of the land on which our properties are held. Credible people with stories to share, wisdom and learnings to impart. If we are going to live in harmony with our Country and make decisions that are not only good for business but for the future of Australia, I believe we should ensure Indigenous Australians have a seat at the table and are included in conversations, so their voices and perspectives are heard. Let’s listen so we can start incorporating their knowledge into our decision-making ensuring they have representation in our industry.
We should be working together to include different approaches, to infuse the culture of First Nations peoples so we can get the best outcomes. I would like to see all Property Council members carry out consultation with the traditional custodians of the land for all development applications, and find ways to recognise and respect First Nations culture in every development.
We cannot change history, but we can make a change for the future of our people and for the land we inhabit. We need to walk together as one nation for true reconciliation to occur.
Stuart White, Leasing Executive, QIC
This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week is “more than a word”. How can you meaningfully contribute to reconciliation? My name is Stuart White and I am one of the retail leasing executives with QICGRE working on Epping Plaza. My background is Biripai and my family comes from Wauchope in New South Wales. I’ve spent most of my life on Bundjalung Country at Tweed Heads NSW and now live and work on the lands of the Kulin nation in Melbourne.
I enjoy working for QIC and feel especially supported as an Indigenous member of the team. QIC is genuinely committed to reconciliation and taking steps that matter. I am fortunate that Epping has a large Aboriginal population, and I am always looking for ways to support Aboriginal people and businesses, especially those in the retail sector.
What’s the one thing I would like to see? There are a few! I would like to see Property Council members partner with Aboriginal businesses in their growth. This can be achieved through awarding contracts that allow Aboriginal businesses to grow, rather than adopting the usual commercial approach of waiting for businesses to grow to a certain size before they can be awarded a contract. The standard approach precludes many worthwhile Aboriginal businesses from working on large tenders as they usually do not have ready access to the sort of capital needed to fund growth. Melbourne Water took this innovative approach with the Wara-Paring enterprise and there are other examples in the infrastructure sector.
Another approach is to break down procurement into smaller chunks that might be able to be delivered by an Aboriginal business, like landscaping at one shopping centre. Additionally, I would, of course, love to see the property industry hire more Aboriginal people and assist Aboriginal retail businesses to scale into a shopping centre environment, as we have seen some steps in that direction in the broader market.
So, for National Reconciliation Week this year, can you:
- Buy from an Aboriginal business? You can check certification sites such as Supply Nation and Kinaway that list a whole range of products and services.
- Research language or find out the lands you live and work on? Try AIATSIS.
- Take your kids to a museum to learn more about real Aboriginal history?
- Commit to reconciliation all year round?
Michael Manikas, General Manager, DLG Shape
Since colonisation, our culture has been suppressed with the forcible removal of children, loss of traditional language use and hiding the truth of both culture and past atrocities. If there is one thing I believe the property industry can do, it is to respectfully adopt Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within the design, build and occupation of buildings. If this is done properly with the appropriate consultation from Traditional Owners, it has the ability to pay respect to the Traditional Owners and create a place that is cultural safe and welcoming to our people. But more importantly, it educates all races of people who may work or live in those buildings.
Zane Carr, Concierge, Westfield Bondi Junction (Scentre Group)
I belong to the Wiradjruri Nation, located in central New South Wales. To me National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared cultures, achievements and history. It’s a chance to work towards the goal of building respectful relationships between each other and creating a fair and equal society.