“NAIDOC week’s ‘Heal Country’ is an opportunity for all Australians to come together not only to celebrate our country, but to improve our understanding of Country—to respect and protect it. ”—Ken Markwell, EGM Indigenous Services, Australian Unity.
Connection to Country is fundamental to our collective wellbeing, as well as our own individual health and wellbeing.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, ‘Heal Country’ calls on us all to improve protection of our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage.
Country encompasses the cultural and spiritual connection we have with the land and waters and extends to every part of the environment: its mountains, hills and rocks; its waterways, earth and air; and its special and sacred sites.
And when our Country is healthy, so are our people.
Australian Unity acknowledges the growing impact of Climate Change on the wellbeing of our communities and we are committed to better understanding that risk as well as seeking to reduce our environmental impact across our business activities.
Across our Group, we already have many policies, principles, initiatives and targets to achieve this aim and we plan to improve our disclosure of such activities at a Group level.
Our largest areas of environmental impact are through our property and investment management portfolios and therefore we will continue to focus on these areas in improving our environmental sustainability over time.
Importantly, this year’s NAIDOC Week theme speaks not only to the environmental protection of Country, but also calls on us to consider institutional and structural reform.
Over its 180-year history, Australian Unity has a long and meaningful association with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the active process of Reconciliation.
Whether it be advocating for a considered discussion on changing the date of Australia Day, to operating the largest Aboriginal Home Care business in Australia, or through to its public support for the Uluru Statement.
Australian Unity recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the first peoples of Australia and are the original inhabitants of this country and celebrates their rich culture and customs—which extends to both its customers and workforce.
What’s important now as a nation is to work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to respect our peoples’ cultures and empower our prosperity. This is what motivates and inspires my work with Australian Unity.
We have known for a long time that there are unique factors to the provision of culturally appropriate age care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When we talk about our culture we talk about ‘our way’. It’s all about our mob, our health, our way.
It is essential that Aboriginal people are genuinely involved in services and programs that have an impact on their lives.
The current operating model in Australian Unity’s Indigenous Services business seeks to address some of the significant gap in holistic wellbeing outcomes faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including socio-economic and cultural barriers in accessing the services they need.
NAIDOC week’s ‘Heal Country’ is an opportunity for all Australians to come together not only to celebrate our country, but to improve our understanding of Country—to respect and protect it.