The Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network (GWRN) was started by members of the Victorian climbing community who live and climb in Gariwerd and the Wimmera. We grappled with the idea that climbing, something that we love and value in our lives, and climbers’ actions have been hurtful towards Traditional Owners. We recognised that a reconciliation approach and relationship was missing between the climbing community and Traditional Owners, as is often the case in Australia more broadly.
Our vision is that the Gariwerd and Wimmera cultural landscapes, communities and visitors are strengthened by respectful and enduring relationships between Traditional Owners and non-indigenous people. We acknowledge our true history, celebrate Culture, Country and knowledge, and support Traditional Owners’ self-determination, so we can proudly share a future together.
A future that we can all be proud of is based on respectful and enduring relationships – hearing and respecting Traditional Owner voices – so that we can forge a positive path forward together. We hold great hope for reconciliation at the start of this journey.
The purposes of GWRN are:
- Build respectful and enduring relationships between members and Traditional Owners of the Gariwerd and Wimmera cultural landscapes.
- Provide our members with opportunities to learn about reconciliation, and what Country and Culture means to Traditional Owners.
- Engage with recreational user groups and other relevant stakeholders to promote reconciliation.
- Respect and promote the cultural values and heritage of Traditional Owners and the laws that protect them.
Our work so far…
We are a new network, but have already begun efforts toward our goals.These include:
- Building relationships with representatives from the Barengi Gadjin Land Council, Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation and the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation.
- Providing a space and resources for members to deepen their understanding of reconciliation and of cultural heritage in the Gariwerd and Wimmera cultural landscapes.
- Sharing resources on reconciliation with our networks and the climbing community at large.
- Participation in National Reconciliation Week.
- Becoming a member of Reconciliation Victoria – a state-wide network of reconciliation groups.
The reconciliation journey can be a difficult, painful, and both emotionally and intellectually challenging effort, and we seek to acknowledge and support members in their journey.
We intend to broaden and diversify our activities beyond climbing as the GWRN grows as an organisation – in terms of membership base, the nature of our work and affiliations with other like-minded organisations.
What is reconciliation?
Reconciliation is the process of bringing together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians to recognise the truth of colonial history and to acknowledge and address its ongoing, adverse systemic impacts on Aboriginal Australians, their Cultures, Communities and identities.
This process of bringing people together does not guarantee reconciliation in the sense that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Aboriginal peoples is repaired. This may be an outcome but is not the goal of reconciliation. Reconciliation is an ongoing activity, rather than the finish line to a race we cross and then stop running. It is better understood as a journey of listening, self-examination and learning, and ultimately, acting in ways that acknowledge the injustices of the past to ensure that they are not repeated and equitable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are achieved in what is now Australia.
What can I do?
Supporting reconciliation means working to overcome inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Aboriginal Australians as an individual and as part of any kind of collective.
As an individual, supporting reconciliation can look like:
- Acknowledging what you don’t know.
- Committing to listening and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, experiences and perspectives, even when it is hard, uncomfortable, and even painful for you personally.
- Educating yourself about history and what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced.
- Joining your local reconciliation organisation – you will be able to become a GWRN member in the coming months.
- Speaking up when someone says something racist, and trying to do so in a way that helps them understand why it was racist and how they can change their behaviour. It can be challenging to unlearn the racist language and narratives that have saturated Australian language and ideas since colonisation.
- Listening to, and accepting, challenging or negative feedback on your own behaviour and words, even if you didn’t mean to say something that can be perceived as racist or culturally insensitive/unsafe.
Start your Reconciliation Journey
Supporting reconciliation as an organisation might look like:
- Considering how you might educate your committee and staff about reconciliation and cultural safety. Cultural safety training is available online and in person (post-Covid-19) from various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
- Considering how you might educate your membership about reconciliation.
- Considering how your organisation addresses the 5 dimensions of reconciliation.
- Considering how your organisation might visibly demonstrate the ability to hold respectful and enduring relationships with Traditional Owners, were such relationships needed in the future.
GWRN and Traditional Owner groups
To find out more about Traditional Owner corporations in the Gariwerd-Wimmera regions, visit: