Reconciliation Week 2022: Wrestling with our role in the Indigenous Business Sector

May 26, 2022

Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO, TDi

In light of National Reconciliation Week, TDi’s Deputy CEO Anna shares some of the unfolding story around our work in the Indigenous Business sector: What are the challenges we are wrestling with as an organisation, what are our responsibilities, and where do we go from here?

 

 

 

A good friend of mine, Ash, is a Bwgcolman (pronounced Bookamun) Ewamian woman. She first worked with TDi three years ago and she’s now serving on our Board. One thing I love about Ash is her honesty. Recently she said to our team,

 

“Reconciliation is about you guys doing your bit… it’s about knowing what is yours to do. It’s not about me doing things, or other First Nations people doing things to further reconcile.”

 

Basically, she was saying: your side stuffed things up.

She was saying that the onus is on us, as non-Indigenous folk, to be brave and take the steps to offer reconciliation. That means being ready for, and inviting in, truth-telling. It means stepping back and knowing when it’s not our turn to speak. It means opening doors for Indigenous businesses, and it means speaking out against racism and the ‘saviour narratives’ that still dominate much of the social sector. And of course, these actions need to be a practice, all year round.

For the last couple of years, our partners and our alumni have said that we have done some good work in the First Nations business sector. But in our eyes, if we continue to work as we have been, we don’t feel like we would be fully realising ‘what is ours to do’. We want to integrate our responsibility for reconciliation into the TDi business model.

 

There are two obvious factors for us to consider: First Nations voice, and First Nations presence.

 

Firstly, to date, most of our projects have been led by non-Indigenous team members. Sometimes our team is entirely non-Indigenous, and at other times we’ve been lucky to have First Nations partners and associates like Tanyah Nasir, Kylie-lee Bradford and Ashleigh Bartley on our team. But still, the leadership of TDi has sat with a non-Indigenous team member. We’re not satisfied with this – we know we’re missing out on opportunities to do better work. We’ve seen glimpses of what happens in our work – in both the Pacific and Australia – when our Indigenous friends are leading. We want more of that in our work.

The second issue is that our presence takes up space (and resources) that could be directed to Indigenous-owned businesses and/or an Indigenous team. To date we have only gone where we have been invited by Indigenous leaders, but that might still be taking up space!

 

So, these two pieces – having First Nations voice/power in our system, and the issue of taking up space – are what we’ve been wrestling with. We are asking: what is our role? And how might we need to change?

 

We are currently in conversation with several of our long-standing, First Nations friends to explore this further, as well as with our leadership team and Board.

We want to integrate our responsibility for reconciliation into the TDi business model. We want to be brave and generous in what we offer. Though we are in the messy middle, we are committed to walking through this process with integrity, in order to make necessary change. I am confident that we will get there, and we can’t wait to share more with you when the time is right.

 

“Though we are in the messy middle, we are committed to walking through this process with integrity.”  Anna, walking on Mirarr Country, Kakadu

 

Reconciliation Week begins May 27 and runs until June 3. The theme this year is “Be brave. Make Change”. What does that mean for you? Reconciliation Australia has some wonderful resources on their website. We encourage you to check them out, and get involved in making a difference.

Reconciliation Week May 27-June 3

Spread the love

9 Mindsets of my Favourite Difference Makers

TDi Senior Consultant Isaac Jeffries shares the philosophies and habits that are the hallmarks of his favourite difference-makers.

This is a concrete list of practices and mindsets for working in community, and maintaining connection to people without burning out or burning others.

Bilum: The Power of Story to Drive Inclusive Economic Growth

by Annie Smits, TDi CEO   In May this year we attended the first official public screening of The Bilum Story, hosted by the AUS-PNG Network at The Lowy Institute in Sydney. Before the screening, I introduced the film to a crowded room, by bringing to the fore a...

Why We Need More Coaches and Fewer ‘Experts’ in International Development

By Kate Wilson, TDi Associate   An intuitive mindset coach and mentor, Kate's insight and expertise is so valuable to our team – we hope it will be for you too. This post was originally published on Kate's website, Resources Reimagined and explores the vital role...

Reconciliation Week 2022: Wrestling with our role in the Indigenous Business Sector

Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO, TDi In light of National Reconciliation Week, TDi’s Deputy CEO Anna shares some of the unfolding story around our work in the Indigenous Business sector: What are the challenges we are wrestling with as an organisation, what are our...

Introducing: Accelerate with IBA 2022 Cohort

Our 'Accelerate with IBA' Showcase on April 7 was a great success. It's been an incredible six-month journey as we partnered with Indigenous Business Australia once again to equip a new cohort of business owners to grow, learn new skills, and explore their social...

Meeting Uncertainty and Crisis with Curiosity

Anthea Smits, TDi CEO   I’m going to be honest; I had a rough start to 2022.   We endured a bout of coronavirus in January, followed by a series of personal crises. Each of these would have been manageable on their own, but one after the other, at a time when...

5 Minutes with Difference Maker Tammy: Ethical Innovation in First Nations Fashion

The challenges of ethical production in the fashion industry are many, but they lead to innovation and creative problem solving. We sat down with Difference Maker Tammy Saville and discussed the joys and challenges of starting her own children’s label, and how the IBA Accelerator is providing practical assistance in helping her meet her social impact goals. 

Mindset in Entrepreneurship

Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO TDi I’ve been at TDi for almost six years, and in that time I’ve worked with about 120 entrepreneurs. The one thing I’ve seen, over and over, is that we all get tripped up by our own mindsets. Our mindset has a big impact on our success in...

Meet Difference Maker, Ruth

Ruth has worked closely with us on several projects including the Laikim Sister program, as well as our ongoing work with bilum.

Holiday Recommendations – 21/22

Looking for some reading, listening or watching recommendations for the holiday season?Throughout the year, in our Newsletter, we have shared various recommendations for reading, listening and watching. We share some of these below that you might like to enjoy over...