Wormald’s First Nations ambassador Dion Devow is encouraging Australians to connect with indigenous communities ahead of Reconciliation Action Week 2022
May 27 – June 3 is National Reconciliation Week (NRW), an opportunity to learn more about the shared histories, cultures, and achievements of Indigenous Australians. The theme for this year’s event is “Be Brave. Make Change”, which aims to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation.
In the lead-up to Reconciliation Week, Wormald’s First Nations ambassador, Dion Devow, explains why it’s important for non-indigenous Australians to learn more about the unique and inspirational First Nations culture and how they can better support Indigenous people and communities across the country.
Dion has been a guiding force in helping to connect non-Indigenous Australians with Aboriginal culture and was acknowledged for his efforts by being awarded the 2018 ACT Australian of the Year.
Born in Darwin, Dion identifies as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. His mother is from an island called Darnley near Murray Island which is part of the Eastern Islands in the Torres Strait. On his father’s side he is from Manbarra, which is part of the Palm Islands off the coast of Townsville in North Queensland. Dion can trace his heritage back to the blackbirding slave trade that occurred in Queensland during the 1800s when Pacific Islanders were transported to Australia to work in the cane fields. His great grandfather was blackbirded and brought to Australia as a 12-year-old boy, where he married a local Aboriginal woman.
Dion has been a passionate advocate for reconciliation and Indigenous issues for more than 20 years which led to the development of his successful clothing business, Darkies Designs.
“About 12 years ago when I was looking for something to wear, I identified a gap in the market for Indigenous themed clothing. I paired up with a graphic artist to bring my ideas to life with a range of clothing that featured my unique Aboriginal cultural flair and style. My t-shirts started resonating with people around the country,” Dion said.
“Reconciliation Week is a significant event for First Nations people, with the occasion and opportunity for non-indigenous people to stop and think about the history of Australia and what reconciliation means to them.”
There is a calendar of events, which can be found on the Reconciliation Australia website, and Dion encourages Australians to overcome their hesitancy about getting involved by supporting this year’s theme “Be Brave. Make Change”, acknowledging that dealing with indigenous affairs can be hard.
“Not everyone is brave enough to act, but Reconciliation Action Week is the perfect opportunity to take that step. The broader public can visit an Indigenous community, whether it be remote or urban, to connect with indigenous culture and better understand their communities,” said Dion.
“We are all human beings, we all have families, and love social activities. For many of us, we share an interest in sport which can be a great way to start exploring a deeper connection with First Nations people. With such a rich country filled with so many different cultures, we are not too different if we break down the barriers.”
During Reconciliation Week, Wormald offices across the country will be hosting morning tea events and showcasing our Reconciliation Action Plan with our teams, with other activities planned throughout the year including NAIDOC week in early July.
For more information about Reconciliation Action Week, visit the official website which outlines how you can get involved: https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/