Dear fellow Queenslanders,

I care about truth-telling in our history. I care about taking action today to de-colonise our thinking, systems and structures. I care about listening to and learning from, walking with and respecting indigenous peoples. And I care about it because it is the pathway to a healthier, stronger and happier Queensland community for everyone.

I want to build an army of people who aren’t afraid to give a damn. People who are no longer prepared to walk past the profound disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pretend that it’s not there. People who see and understand their own privilege and want to add their personal agency to re-engineering the civil structures that perpetuate racism and discrimination in our names today.

It is just not acceptable to me that in an age with all the wealth and privilege we enjoy in Australia, that there are still Australians who are still subject to severe disadvantage and disrespect. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities still don’t have the most basic access to education and medical care, and their hope to live safely and to a satisfactory living standard may never be reached. What does it say about us as non-indigenous Australians that we continue to allow these degrading conditions to exist? What does it say about everyone of us, that we are silent and unresponsive in the face of such pain and trauma?

It’s just not good enough.

I think that most Australians are embarrassed and ashamed of our treatment and disrespect for the world’s oldest living continuous culture. I think that most Australians prefer to think of themselves as friendlier and more generous than that. Sadly the evidence for such generosity isn’t there. The real story plays out in continuing deaths in custody, preventable diseases still killing people in remote communities, sky-high incarceration rates and shamefully high youth suicide rates.

It’s time to change all that. It’s time for non-indigenous Australians to actually become the generous friendly folk we like to think we are. To be the change we want to see.

It’s been a tough couple of years with the pandemic and the floods. Everyone is feeling a little shaken and we’re all struggling to get back to some kind of normal.

How good would it be, if in all the rebuilding that we have to do, that we chose to use this time to build our communities back stronger for everyone? How good would it be to forge a new connection with Country? To listen to the stories and learn the histories of the First Australians? To re-engineer systems and structures that create inequality in the first place?

Our future can be better than our past. Each one of us can choose to live differently. The good news is that we can deconstruct institutional racism. The good news is that truth-telling and peace building and bringing justice is possible. It’s not just possible, it has started.

Your opportunity is now. Help us to have the tough conversations and get this work done. We need everyone on this reconciliation journey.

Alex Hanlon