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Straight from his Google Hangout with Princes William and Harry to launch the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, Lockie shares his experience of youth inspired reconciliation in Australia…

Over the years of immersing myself on the road to reconciliation in my hometown Perth, Western Australia I have had the good fortune to connect with many amazing Indigenous and Non-indigenous people. This has built my level of understanding on how we can best create the right ecology for healing our histories and progressing forward with equity and mutual respect.

I am a privileged, young, white Australian born with endless opportunities for growth, development and a prosperous life. It was not until I was 16 years of age when my eyes were opened and I became aware that there are many Australians who were not given the same opportunities as I had as a young person.

My fist big eye opening experience was in 2006 when I traveled to a remote Indigenous community over 3000km from my home in the same state. The land was home to the Bardi people on the Dampier Peninsula. This visit opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life and set me up for a path as some sort of practical social anthropologist. I was deeply concerned that the educational facilities were extremely limited. This was at a time when my own country and state in particular was experiencing a prosperous resource boom. It perplexed me that there were young people who did not have access to basic forms of education such as a school library and sports equipment. This ignited a spark deep within to pursue avenues on how I can drive positive social change to create more equity in my community.

The journey that lay ahead was one of continual growth and development where I was so fortunate to have many mentors and leaders around supporting me with my pursuits to make these progressive social changes. Around three years ago, the ICEA Foundation was united with a clear purpose that guides us today, “Reconciliation Inspired by young people”.

Reconciliation throughout the Commonwealth is certainly a controversial discussion point for many countries as a result of early colonization, where the thought processes of a few with good intentions from a far away land did not necessarily meet the needs of many Indigenous people in remote parts throughout the globe. The breakdown in communication and lack of time in understanding others’ beliefs caused many issues amongst other cultures creating great social divides. Unfortunately, there are many people today continually imposing ethnocentric beliefs unconsciously onto others without investing time to learn with one another and find the meeting point of mutual respect through building knowledge, or as the local Nyoongar Aboriginal people say ‘Kuditj’.

I believe the journey to reconciliation is through developing more opportunities for people to develop Kuditj of their national history, context and culture in a way that is not facilitated through the Western education system. We need to promote  an approach that allows for more conversations to be had and time building hands on experiences, connecting with the Indigenous peoples.

What we have been immersing ourselves in over the years is developing a framework on how we can establish these teachings that compliment the school system with the intention of breaking down cultural and racial divides that are undermining the education system in Australia.

The Kuditjiny (journey of attaining more knowledge) is a process of creating more positive experiences connecting with the Aboriginal people, country and culture. These experiences then flow onto developing strong and meaningful relationships ultimately flowing into Kuditj knowledge/understanding. This is a general teaching platform for any form of education, however, it creates a canvas (as seen in diagram below) for young people to be able to work off through developing and sharing their story.

 

Lockie Cooke Blog Post Image

 

This canvas is crucial, as this is the way reconciliation is shared throughout the community, inspiring a grass roots movement. This model is such a great medium to articulate one’s Kuditjiny (learning journey) to reconciliation.

I have presented this framework at the Commonwealth Youth Forum, Sri Lanka 2013 and received wide support from young leaders around the globe including post-conflict areas.

Like all things, there is no silver bullet to healing our history, this model works best when it is run bi-culturally by young people passionate about healing our histories.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Royal Commonwealth Society.

If you are a young leader like Lockie why not check out our youth leadership programmes here.