This morning, as I listened to radio coverage of National Sorry Day with my 3 year old snuggled in close to me, I felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow and sadness as I remembered those affected by what has been described internationally as genocide – the forced removal of children from Aboriginal families.
I listened to reports about the hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people discussing constitutional change this week, as they prepare to deliver a statement of their findings today. And I reflected on this article I read last year by Celeste Liddle, a stark reminder of our ongoing failure as a society to listen to women’s voices – especially the voices of Aboriginal women.
In the Aboriginal culture, the term “dadirri” means to practice deep listening, out of respect. Deep listening describes the processes of deep and respectful listening to build community—a way of encouraging people to explore and learn from the ancient heritage of Aboriginal culture, knowledge and understanding.
According to Aboriginal writer Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann
“The contemplative way of dadirri spreads over our whole life. It renews us and brings us peace. It makes us feel whole again.”
If our goal is truly reconciliation, then it seems obvious to me that over the next week, we ought to be applying “dadirri” to the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander people. Reconciliation provides the opportunity for the first people of our nation to find peace amidst the suffering of the past and the trauma which they continue to experience.
For as long as we are not listening to understand, but to respond, then we are unlikely to hear how we can support them to close the many gaps in quality of life.
Indigenous infant mortality rates are double those for the non-indigenous population, while literacy and numeracy rates are significantly lower for Aboriginal students, according to the Australian government’s 2017 Closing the Gap report.
Despite making up just 3 per cent of the general population, about a quarter of Australia’s prison population is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. And Indigenous women and girls are 31 times more likely to be hospitalised due to domestic and family violence related assaults compared to non-Indigenous women and girls.
Additionally, the unemployment rate for indigenous Australians is almost four times higher than for their non-indigenous peers. Their life expectancy is also about 10 years lower than for the rest of Australia.
And the list goes on…
So this week, as we embrace Reconciliation Week, I’m going to be practising Dadirri, and I invite you to join me. Here’s a lovely 3 minute reflection to start to your practice.