Doing the right thing is never wrong


July is upon us, putting the first half of the year behind us. In July, we would have celebrated the achievements, culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during NAIDOC Week, had this year unfolded differently.

History will record that in 2020, it was an event that occurred half a world away that reignited conversations in our own country about issues of racial injustice and inequality. George Floyd, an African American man who died while detained by police, forced us to face Australia’s own Indigenous justice record, particularly regarding deaths in custody. Since 1991, there have been 434.

None of these have led to a criminal conviction.

Last month also saw the blasting of the Juukan Gorge—a site of cultural significance to the Puutu Kunti Kurama and Pinikura people, and arguably to the world—during Reconciliation Week, no less. It served as another reminder that the journey of reconciliation is long and marred with obstacles. Nevertheless, it is vital to keep going.

I know this makes for sobering reading, but facing truths is the only way towards reconciliation—a process the APA is wholeheartedly committed to. Many will ask: what does this have to do with physiotherapy?

We are yet to make significant progress in closing the gap in justice, housing, education and in health.

I have heard it said many times that good physios treat the whole individual, not just the ailment. A deeper understanding of someone’s context, history and struggle can only serve to provide better healthcare.

AHPRA will soon mandate a level of cultural competency for all health practitioners. The APA will support our workforce by providing lots of opportunities for cultural growth.

I am pleased that this publication will soon be the home of a regular column on truth telling and reconciliation, highlighting the achievements, history and challenges of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander physios and their communities.

A series of podcasts will provide unique insight into Indigenous stories and our cultural safety training will equip physios with the perspective and skills they need to provide culturally appropriate care.

The APA’s commitment to reconciliation is strong. We are working towards greater awareness of culture and tangible advances in the way our profession engages with Indigenous Australians. We don’t always get it right, but we commit to learning and improving.

My final reflection is that reconciliation is as much a personal journey as it is a collective one.

Wherever you are on that journey, I implore you to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to acknowledge our past, to keep searching for ways to close that gap, and to understand and know a little more with each day.

It is not always an easy pursuit, but doing the right thing is never wrong.


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