Posted: 02 Dec. 2021 5 min. read

Discussing racism and ‘white fragility’ in Australia

“Safe to Brave” was the apt overarching theme for November 2021’s once-in -a-generation Australian Reconciliation Convention 2021  (ARC) for which Deloitte was a proud bronze sponsor. Speakers at the virtual convention said that, despite some important developments such as the 1992 Mabo decision and the 1997 Bringing them Home report, there remains much unfinished business between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Film maker Rachel Perkins talked about the need for community truth-telling about frontier warfare – that 100,000 people died on this soil as a result of it. She called for the need for monuments of remembrance for the victims of violent conflicts between First Nations people and European settlers during the first 140 years of colonisation.

Speakers drew attention to the need to move the dial on racism – on the difference between structural and grass roots racism. There was a call to explore the concept of ‘white fragility’ – the idea that white people resist admitting that racism exists and are reluctant to see it within the structures from which they/we benefit.

On a panel called Honouring the Future, Worimi man Leroy Wilkinson-Maher spoke of the need to transform systems and structures in mainstream business while Bardi Yawuru and Kija man Clinton Benjamin wondered if Reconciliation took the focus away from treaty and landrights. One participant spoke of the need for society to “feel the shame and sit in the hurt” of Australia’s treatment of Indigenous people. 

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the nation was “in a period of awakening. Australia is waking up to its real history.” Deloitte is committed to walking and working together with Australia’s First Peoples.

More about the author

Gerry Wilde

Gerry Wilde

Director, Responsible Business

Gerry has been leading Deloitte Australia’s Responsible Business team and The Deloitte Foundation since 2015 and is shaping the firm's strategy to be a leading corporate citizen and to make a 'profit with purpose'. Gerry navigated towards this role after 8 years of strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte. Through The Deloitte Foundation and the Responsible Business team, Gerry manages Deloitte Australia's pro bono, skilled volunteering, workplace giving and environmental programs.