Elder wants to ‘fill the gap’ in journey to reconciliation
FOR Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Johnson, the meaning of National Reconciliation Week is deeper than "just another day".
Reconciliation means bringing mainstream Australia and First Nation Australians together, and Mr Johnson is determined to see that happen.
"We've got to fill the gap," he said.
"Instead of those on each side of the gap throwing stones at each other, we need to throw them into the gap and fill it."
Mistrust and anger were among the stones being thrown, Mr Johnson said.
He said there was pent-up anger on both sides but by throwing that energy into the gap instead of across it, a foundation for reconciliation could be formed.
By filling the gap, he said the country would have a solid base on which to keep building.
"Just like the saying 'build a bridge', we can build up," he said.
But to fill the gap, there needs to be a conversation.
"It needs to start in schools, or even at home before schools so our (First Nation) kids aren't treated differently," Mr Johnson said.
He said training and long- term employment opportunities for indigenous youth at risk of "slipping through the net" were also important.
And while reconciliation may take a while, Mr Johnson is confident the next generation will move further towards that goal, with technology and education helping the journey.
Because, at the end of the day, Mr Johnson said the only difference between white Australians and First Nation peoples was skin colour.
"Our blood is all the same," he said.