National Reconciliation Week (27th May – 3rd June) is a time for all Australians to reflect on our shared histories, cultures and achievements. The dates that bookend the week are significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – marking the successful 1967 referendum on the 27th May and the High Court Mabo decision on the 3rd June. This year, the way that companies celebrate NRW is going to look very different as COVID-19 has impacted planning for NRW across the country. Reconciliation Australia is encouraging us to ‘think differently and creatively about what we had planned, take events online, and join in social and digital media conversations.’

The 2020 NRW theme In this Together, announced in 2019, is resonating in ways we could not have predicted as we navigate a new world. More than ever we are seeing how technology is shaping our relationships, how we collaborate and come together. PHD, part of Omnicom Media Group, are currently navigating the Innovate RAP. We wanted to investigate how we can harness technology, create a sense of togetherness and educate our peers and colleagues about NRW. From a media and marketing perspective our entire industry has had to pivot to survive. As HR professionals the show must go on for us too, and it is critical that traditions are maintained, and we support causes that brings life to our values.

I am excited to see how we can bring NRW to life in a virtual capacity and use this as an opportunity to reach more Australians, and preserve the headway we have made in our reconciliation journey so far. We are In This Together and here are 5 suggestions on how to celebrate NRW in lockdown:

  1. Host an All Staff virtual meeting to educate your employees on the significance and history of NRW. At PHD, ‘The Big Meeting’ gives us a forum to do this. On a weekly basis we get together to share great work & achievements, company updates & world news, but more recently this has been a time for us to build connection to our peers separated by distance. Further to this, why not tie in a quiz to engage your staff in the information that you are sharing on NRW & Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.

 

  1. Share daily email communications with your staff. This is an opportunity for you to educate your staff on the importance of NRW to develop a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, histories and cultures. One email topic could be about the Bridge Walks for Reconciliation that took place 20 years ago in 2000; in a historic display of support for reconciliation 250,000 Australians walked across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. To this day, this event is the biggest demonstration of public support for a cause that has ever taken place in Australia.

 

  1. Host a virtual screeningof a Reconciliation Film Club documentary. Send the movie schedule to your team, and at conclusion, why not follow up with a virtual discussion group to spark conversation and learning. The impact of this is that you can bring people together virtually, actively engage participants and promote cultural awareness amongst your employees.

 

  1. Promote the hashtag and activate the message, #InThisTogether. Share a picture on social media of a group of your staff on video conference, holding up a piece of paper with the hashtag in solidarity to show your commitment to reconciliation.

 

  1. Update your email signature using the 2020 NRW official banner. This might seem like a small action, however the impact is broad. The banner highlights your commitment to reconciliation and is a public declaration for your support for NRW.

COVID has disrupted the entire media and marketing industry, everyone is online, and we have adapted at exceptional speed. But traditions cannot be made redundant in this new landscape. Now is the time to reflect on traditions & Australia’s history to consider how we bring National Reconciliation Week to life on a virtual stage. Not only do we need to continue with traditions as they were before, but we need to investigate opportunities to reach larger audiences and make a bigger impact! Reconciliation Australia poignantly reminds us, ‘Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort.’

As an industry, let us continue to navigate this fluid digital world to find opportunities make an impact for causes that count.