Job fair connecting businesses to school leavers. Source: Supplied

Leadership
Anthony Cavanagh

Authentic relationships can last decades: How to effectively engage with Indigenous communities

Authors
Anthony Cavanagh
Networking
4 minute Read

This week is Reconciliation Week and as an Aboriginal man, who is also the chief executive of a charity that helps Aboriginal youth transition from education to employment, I meet a lot of business owners who want to engage with Indigenous communities. 

The problem is — many of them don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed or intimidated by reaching out to community. However, with a foundation based on genuine interest, mutual respect and meaningful relationships, Australian businesses have a great opportunity to bridge the gap between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal Australia.  

Build relationships that are long-term and meaningful, over quick and transactional

Once you have an authentic relationship with an Aboriginal community, this relationship can last for decades. However creating these relationships requires a long-term approach, over one-off, transactional-style interactions. 

You can’t simply put on an event for NAIDOC week and expect the Indigenous community to show up if they don’t know who you are. Likewise, celebrating Aboriginal culture without the input and knowledge of the local mob may result in unintentionally stepping your foot in it and offending an Aboriginal person who does show up. 

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