REFLECTIVE: Goreng Goreng Aboriginal elder Richard Johnson likes the Aboriginal flag for its simplicity and cultural heritage.
REFLECTIVE: Goreng Goreng Aboriginal elder Richard Johnson likes the Aboriginal flag for its simplicity and cultural heritage. Mike Richards

Reconciliation Week about changing attitudes

FOR Goreng Goreng Aboriginal elder Richard Johnson, National Reconciliation Week is a time to reflect.

While no official commemorations would be held in Gladstone this week, Mr Johnson said it would be in the minds of most.

"We recognise it concisely on a personal level," he said.

"Everyone has their own experiences and for some it hits closer to home, with the stolen generation."

It has been seven years since Kevin Rudd made a formal "sorry speech" and 23 years since Paul Keating's, and while their significance is undeniable, Mr Johnson said not a lot had changed.

"I believe Mr Keating had the strongest words that day at Redfern Park," he said.

"But still to this day, it hasn't changed the grassroots.

"Reconciliation is about changing attitudes."

The Goreng Goreng elder said he remembered a time when a lot of people never used to go to the hospitals because they felt they weren't welcome and there was prejudice as soon as they approached the counter.

Mr Johnson said the current challenge was that indigenous people have had to change their attitudes to have equal job opportunities.

"There needs to be a change in education, and housing," he said.

By 2020 Mr Johnson said he would like to see a hub in Gladstone for indigenous people and a cultural shift.

In a closer time frame, Mr Johnson and Gidajil co worker Trisha Coleman called for an indigenous flag to be flown at the Bundaberg Regional Council Chambers.

A petition has been set up at the office for people to sing their call to arms for equality.

"There is an Aboriginal flag flying high at the Gladstone Regional Council," he said.

"Matt Burnett has been a big support with getting that regularly flown."

Mr Johnson is also a member of the South Gladstone Rotary Club which has installed flag polls on the corner of Glenlyon St and Dawson Rd.

"I will be taking down some Aboriginal flags to this area in the coming days too," he said.

Reconciliation Week runs from May 27 to June 3.