I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet. I pay my respects to the Elders; past, present and future, and recognise their continuing connection and contribution to the land and waters. And, I extend this respect to any Aboriginal people who are here today.
Now, I don’t consider myself to be a bold person. So it came as a surprise when my name was put forward to speak to you today. I took the time to consider what bold things I may have done in my life. And what I found surprised me. It turns out that there have been many moments in my life when I made a bold choice.
Now as I said earlier, I don’t consider myself to be a bold person. In much the same way that I don’t consider myself to be a violent person, but I accept that if faced with a certain set of circumstances I would be willing to be violent to protect those I love.
So while I don’t consider myself to be innately bold, I realise that when faced with certain circumstances: racism in the workplace, poor health outcomes, poor education outcomes, higher incarceration rates, and poor employment outcomes for Aboriginal people, for my community, then I choose to be bold in my actions and ideas. I choose to probe and challenge people’s thinking, and present a different perspective. I choose to be bold when there can be a better outcome.
I chose to start Blakworks in 2008 because I believed there is a way for employers to make Aboriginal employment work. Because I believed employers want to do better, need to do better, in providing opportunities for Aboriginal people in our communities. And just as importantly, I believe they can do better.
Every day I ask my clients to be bold, to try new ideas, consider new perspectives. And for many of these employers, the first bold step is admitting they have a problem with Aboriginal employment, because when they look around they see they have no or very few Aboriginal staff. And the second, even bolder step, is to admit they don’t understand why this problem exists and that they need help.
Now, its easy to think of Aboriginal people as either victims, or criminals; to think that the problem with Aboriginal employment is Aboriginal people, and not our workplaces.
And, I guess I’m bold enough to point out that it’s just not true.
Here on the Central Coast, we are a strong community with many smart, dedicated, and dare I say, bold people working with and for our community. If you come into our communities, our organisations, our events; you will see good people, you will see good relationships, you will see commitment, you will see hope, and you will see success.
This isn’t to say that our communities don’t face problems. But these problems do not exist because of Aboriginal people. They exist because of the intersection of our cultures, our histories, and our experiences.
And I guess this is why I get called ‘bold’. Because in the face of circumstances such as these, I find the alternative; to be timid, or silent, simply unacceptable. So I choose to be bold for change.