This week, IAG employees around Australia are celebrating the biggest week on the First Nations calendar – NAIDOC week. The 2021 theme, ‘Heal Country’ is particularly close to our hearts at IAG. It aligns to our purpose to make the world a safer place and calls on all of us to heal our nation – to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction.
Here, IAG’s Rebecca Hyland, proud Kamilaroi Woman, shares what the 2021 NAIDOC Week theme means to her and how the IAG Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) reflects our work to heal country.
By Rebecca Hyland, IAG Principal Indigenous Engagement
I’m a proud Kamilaroi woman, currently living on the Darkinjung lands. I come from a big family, and I’m fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by mob and on Country.
My Grandfather and Grandmother were very important to me. My Grandfather taught me as one of the older grandchildren about culture and kinship which instilled a sense of responsibility within me, which I hold strong today. My Grandmother was the best cook and the kindest and most loving person I have ever met; she would bake for everyone on the mission and make sure that absolutely nobody went hungry! Together they raised eight children on the Caroona mission, also known as Walhallow.
My connection to Country, it heals me. It’s a calling, a calling when you know it’s time to go home, time to get back on Country. She calls me home when she knows I need healing, she calls me home when someone else needs healing and she calls me home when together we need each other to connect spiritually, emotionally, physically.
My Grandfather dedicated his life to caring for the land, he taught me how the land cares for me, and we care for her and about how she sends us messages and we must be still, and we must listen. Country is within me while she is surrounding me, guiding me and my children.
Our Elders have been calling for action to recognise past injustices and to work together to resolve many injustices that still impact the lives of our people. Organisations have an important role to play in being the catalyst for action through speaking up, taking a public stance on matters that impact our peoples, our land and our communities and by making a commitment to generate awareness, acknowledgement and protection of our land now and for our future generations.
My connection to Country, it heals me. It’s a calling, a calling when you know it’s time to go home, time to get back on Country.
The devastation of natural disasters, like the recent bushfires and droughts have such pained impacts on land, animals and communities all across Australia. Traditional practices have provided protection for centuries and recognition and implementation of our traditional knowledges and practices is now critical.
I am proud to be working at IAG. Our purpose at IAG is to make your world a safer place. We recognise that our role extends beyond our core responsibilities to our customers, partners and shareholders and our aim is to have a positive influence on all the communities we serve.
We have used our voice to stand beside our First Nations peoples through the Uluru Statement of the Heart and through our Reconciliation Action Plan, we search for innovative solutions to address climate change and disaster resilience with First Nations peoples. We are dedicated to our ongoing work with First Nations peoples to address the complex challenges and issues that affect the land and affect our communities.
This NAIDOC Week, I encourage you to work with First Nations peoples to heal country. You can speak with your local Aboriginal community organisations, schools, and Aboriginal Land Council to find out how you can get involved to further awareness, acknowledgement and protection of our lands.