What I learnt from our cultural learning program

Published Jun 28, 2021, 7:40 AM
Written by Sakina Abedi

Our cultural learning program broadened Sakina's understanding of Australia's First Nations people and their lived experience.

How our Cultural Learning Program gave me new appreciation for First Nations culture


Symbiote’s recent cultural learning program was an eye-opening experience for me. I believe it’s an initiative every organisation in Australia needs to undertake. I moved to Australia from India in 2016 and was unaware of the nation’s dark history regarding the treatment of people of First Nations.

This program reminded me that it’s a huge privilege to know your roots, to be able to stay and grow around and with them. I learnt what a privilege it is to be able to learn, implement and pass on your culture and its practices to the next generation. And most importantly, I learnt how that privilege and right was snatched away forcefully and brutally from the people of First Nations during the invasion.

I learnt about how just a few survivors had to face restrictions and injustice to retain the communities they have now, about the problems they’re still facing today, and about the struggles they’re going through to try and reconnect to their roots and re-establish the most basic rights they are entitled to.

The program triggered a personal transformation as well. I now want to know more about my own culture and its practices. I realised how a culture could be lost in only a generation or two if its significance is not communicated and its practices are not included, whether that happens through lack of effort or awareness.

I see Australia as a very progressive country. Everyone has the right and freedom to practice and follow their own culture and beliefs. We can’t change the past but we can do a lot to make amends in our own little ways. The first step would definitely be to create more awareness about not only the dark history of the nation but also the current situation of many First Nations people. As I saw in my own company’s recent cultural learning program, these kinds of sessions change individuals’ perspectives and they then go on to talk with friends and family and so on. There’s power in learning about, embracing and respecting our diversity.


About the program


The first Symbiote Cultural Learning Program: A First Nations Perspective was run to coincide with Australia Day in 2021.

Two of our indigenous leaders, Rachel Kelly and Kiel Barber, proposed the Cultural Learning Program to create a safe space for cultural learning within our business. They both recognised the one sided narrative so often promoted with Australia Day that they wanted to ensure everybody at Symbiote had the opportunity to learn about First Nations perspectives as a way to build deeper empathy and understanding of others lived experiences. They also felt the program would not only broaden perspectives but could also help in the development of more user-friendly products in the future.

This first Cultural Learning program provided sessions with Uncle Bill Nicholson Jnr, a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Corporations Principal adult cross-cultural educator, as well as a talk by Symbiote staff member and First Nations man, Kiel Barber and team discussions.

This Program applies the ‘Think global, act local mindset’. By creating a safe learning environment for staff to listen and learn, we hope to build a deeper awareness and empathy of each other’s lived experiences, while celebrating the diversity that makes Symbiote a great place to work.


Image credit via Ondrej Machart on Unsplash