Walk Together International and Walk Together New Zealand acknowledge the beginning of time, the dreamtime, ancestors and ancestral knowledge.
We acknowledge traditional custodians the First Nations Peoples of Australia, and Māori as Tangata Whenua (People of the Land) of Aotearoa (New Zealand).
We acknowledge many Walk Together stories we share, and skillsets we have acquired or that evolved, have been developed in many ways; with Indigenous elders, communities and individuals with whom we’ve worked as well as visionary non-Indigenous people.
In the 1980s, the roots of Walk Together were being nourished by two organisational models: Robert Quinn and one we call SCISS (Strategy, Culture Information, Skills, Structure). We used Quinn’s model particularly to assess strengths and weaknesses in organisations and develop plans for systemic change.
Dave Goddard became more and more involved with Australian Indigenous groups, leading to an increasing questioning of the wisdom of thinking of Systemic Change where two different cultures were engaged as fitting with Quinn or SCISS.
We concluded that using single model for Systemic Change where two different cultures were involved was essentially a form of assimilation. Australian Indigenous peoples have their own ways of knowing and doing, as do non-Indigenous Australians. Both needed and need to be recognised
That led to notion of a philosophy called Mutual Ways comprising different cultures meeting in a “between world” to use a Strategic Action Framework (SAF) to define, plan and implement mutually beneficial strategies for mutually beneficial outcomes without any group needing to give up cultural values.
Walk Together initially evolved from the research of Dr Dave Goddard and his experiences working between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures. Over time, in company with the late Nick Norris and Colin Bell as co-directors of Collaborative Systemic Change Pty Ltd, and Arama Mataira, director of Walk Together NZ, Walk Together has been further developed and refined.
It has become a tool to holistically develop social and operational relationships to achieve beneficial outcomes, within or between cultures. Through the process relationships between differing groups are revisited and reset as a means of reconciliation and future benefit.
Achieving systemic change within, or between, races and organizations requires new or different ways of working. Einstein is generally credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This definition applies to systemic change, the creation of which is the key goal of Walk Together; to challenge the inequality of opportunities and outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
When conflict happens there are three options; fight, flee or work with it. Conflict has many different sources; differing perspectives, beliefs, competing ideas, values and tasks. Working with conflict is an area where seeking further knowledge by asking questions rather than making judgements is essential.
Prior to Western interventions in different countries, stability reigned. Eco-systems were well managed by Indigenous people as a matter of survival. What needs to happen globally is that such knowledge is imparted and accepted as a means of survival in a world where population is increasing if not exponentially, at least very rapidly. In the matter of knowledge systems competing values between cultures are generated by survival, Different knowledge systems are not wrong, they’re just different and need to be resolved in a Between World in order to achieve outcomes that are beneficial to all parties.
Indigenous peoples around the world have ancestral knowledge which guides and informs decision-making. Vast knowledge is housed in complex and sophisticated systems, that many don’t know exist or value. For Indigenous people the dislocation, dysfunction and disadvantage generated by colonisation, assimilation and inequity have been, and in many ways still are, alive well and thriving. Some of the dysfunction and disadvantage is caused by how non-Indigenous people understand, misunderstand, learn from or ignore Indigenous knowledge, and knowledge systems.
Walk Together is committed to supporting Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy by supporting the increased use of Indigenous knowledge and knowledge systems, languages and cultures around the world.
It is crucial for peoples from all cultures to understand how the generational transmission of knowledge itself supports, preserves, and regenerates culture. As the elders in this current generation who hold and are willing to share their wisdom will not be here for much longer, it must begin now and be supported.
“Whenever an elder dies, a library burns down”
— AMADOU HAMPÂTÉ BÂ