My name is Taylah Griffin, Gangalu mob, I am a Flight Test Engineer (FTE) at Boeing Defence Australia (BDA). I completed my Honours degree in Electrical and Aerospace Engineering from QUT in 2018, and in doing so, became the first Indigenous Australian to graduate with that degree, and the first Indigenous female to graduate from QUT with any Engineering degree.
EWB has impressive female engineers in its membership and Taylah is no exception. Her job as a Flight Test Engineer is to modify the flight system’s so that they are safe and functional. Her current role involves working on the first Australian designed and built aircraft since WW2. It’s exciting work and she loves it.
Joining EWB’s RAP Committee
Taylah joined EWB’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Advisory committee in late 2020 after an EWB member shared a social media post inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engineers to get involved in the process.
“I just know the work required to get these documents over the line, it takes so much to implement. I want to use my knowledge and give back and help others. People are asking for help with RAPS and I have the capacity.”
Taylah recognises that EWB has an important role to play in the movement towards reconciliation due to EWB’s presence in tertiary education and their Engineering On Country program.
“EWB has a great opportunity to teach students what a RAP is and why reconciliation is important. EWB has a massive platform and opportunity to create visibility and awareness of Reconciliation.”
For Taylah, the highlight of EWB’s RAP is the organisation’s commitment to implement flexible working arrangements on 26 January.
“I strongly believe that ‘Australia Day’ is one of the biggest barriers preventing reconciliation, so by allowing flexibility around this date, you are allowing your workforce to show their support for change and you’re normalising the fact that this is not a day for celebration. I love it!”
Twenty years of a formal reconciliation process
With 2021 marking twenty years of Reconciliation Australia’s formal reconciliation process, Taylah is hopeful that changes made today will lead to a range of positive outcomes in the future. Of particular interest to her is a new date for all Australians to celebrate Australia Day; the integration of indigenous history in the Australian school curriculum; increased representation of First Nations people within STEM education and careers; and seeing all gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people reduced or eradicated.
“Every reconciliation action we take today will create positive change. There’s lots happening in the reconciliation space, and I’m excited to see where we’ll be in 20 years’ time.”
More than a word. Reconciliation takes action
Taylah believes that key to reconciliation is self reflection and collective action.
“After the Black Lives Matter movement last year, so many people had a voice, but did nothing. They were happy to post on social media, but how many people took action and actually worked towards a reconciled Australia?”
She says it is important to be courageous when deciding to take action.
“The time has passed for mediocre protests. I’m an advocate for getting uncomfortable and taking a stand, even if it’s not widely accepted by your people.”
Getting uncomfortable is part of the process
“I see it so much in the workplace and when I was at Uni – people don’t take a stand because they are worried about making others uncomfortable. And I’m like ‘just do it.’ We can’t not take action because it makes people uncomfortable.”
Some advice for those confused about how to start taking action towards reconciliation
Taylah encourages people to begin by educating themselves about our shared Australian history, utilising the ample resources available online. After that, she recommends connecting with a First Nations person – online or face-to-face, reaching out to local land council groups or booking a time with the Indigenous liaison officers within the workplace.
“If someone reached out to me on Linked In and needed help or asked me questions, I’d be like ‘yep what can I help you with’.
To read more about EWB’s Innovate RAP and First Nations work, head to www.ewb.org.au/firstnations