What led you to become involved in WRN? I was volunteering with some Japanese women who had come to Australia to help in the deeper reconciliation between Australia and Japan. Through their eyes I clarified a deep feeling within me that something was not right in Australia with its relationship with its First people and why I had made little progress myself in making relationships with First Nations people. We arranged a meeting with Helen Sham Ho who fortuitously was going to a planning meeting the next day to launch a women’s group for reconciliation. She said I would be welcome to come too. I will never forget that day and the small group of dynamic women there including Elaine Telford, Stella Cornelius and Carol Vale. I became part of the team sending out letters for the State Library meeting and the multinational peace choir sang as part of the program. I have been involved ever since though sometimes less actively but always in awe of the wonderful women I am volunteering with.
In your view what are the biggest challenges for genuine reconciliation? That enough time is not given to hear out in a respectful way the complexity of the individual and collective stories of our shared history then reflect on the consequences of what First Nations people have experienced. And to reflect on what they were not able to experience because of the trauma already within their families and the solution is not to take children away. Until we do that properly we are not settlers we are squatters.
How do you see the way forward? The embracing of the full content of the Uluru Statement so we can settle things of the past properly and create a shared vision for the future where autonomy, integration and mutual benefit lead to wellbeing for all First Nations people and those who came to these shores as well as the wellbeing of the land, waters and all life they support.