STEPHANIE ARMSTRONG, DARE TO LEAD
"I am one of 13 children, a Gamilaroi woman from NSW. We had 42 registered foster kids but our door was always open. I became a listener - being in the middle of the family, you tend to be listening to people all the time. At uni I did the same thing, listening to non-Aboriginal people about their lives. Reconciliation is about the need of everyone to listen to stories. Aboriginal people who are strong in themselves really know where they come from - it is the same for non-Aboriginal people. The Three Rs are: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.
"Last year I was invited to a primary school. I read my Mum's story about little dogs and how they look after each other. I told the Preps about the Apology - about saying sorry, about how important it is to be friends. Then a little hand went up and she asked for my phone number because she wanted to be my friend.
"At the other end of the school I talked to Year 6. The teacher told me that when the Apology was on one of the children said very aggressively, 'I'm not apologising for anything'. So I talked to that class about my grandfather's story, how he fought in the war, about how when he came home he had to carry a ticket everywhere, about people who were taken away - and I could see this boy's little face as I talked; he just hadn't met Aboriginal people or had those conversations before.
"I urge you to get into your local community. If the first person you speak with can't help you, you can always be passed onto someone else. There are always connections which can be made.
"There is a perception that Aboriginal people need to be cared for. The thing is, our people care for lots of people. At the end of last year my daughters brought two non-Aboriginal friends home to be part of our family.
"We still open our hearts to people. If you have those conversations, you have to take time to hear people's stories. I have a friend who says, I am open to hearing about Aboriginal people's stories, but I want to tell my story too. As Aboriginal people we get used to other people always asking us questions, and I am sort of okay with that now, but you need to be prepared to share a bit of yourself too."