Richmond chief executive officer Brendon Gale helped launch the 2018 National Reconciliation Action Plan Conference at the Swinburne Centre, Punt Road Oval this morning.

The Richmond Football Club is co-hosting the two-day conference in conjunction with Reconciliation Australia, the Swinburne University of Technology and the Korin Gamadji Institute.

Below is a transcript of Brendon's speech.

Can I start by acknowledging the owners of the traditional lands on which we meet – the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations– and pay my respects to elders past, present and future.

I would particularly like to thank Aunty Joy Murphy for her Welcome to Country, and for the support and guidance she has provided Richmond over many years.

We are thrilled to be able to host this two-day conference in partnership with Reconciliation Australia and Swinburne University and I would like to thank the many people from all three organisations that have made this conference a reality.

Welcome to Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine, and also to Swinburne University vice-chancellor Linda Kristjanson.

I would also like to welcome Dr Jacki Huggins – the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First People. A number of our young people (all in the room here today) were lucky enough to attend and present at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues earlier this year at the invitation of National Congress. It was an eye-opening experience and I know how much they appreciated having you by their side Jackie, so thank you and welcome.

It is also particularly poignant that we meet at the Korin Gamadji Institute here at Richmond Football Club and in the Maurice Rioli Room. Maurice was a champion of this Club but equally a champion of his people and I’m sure he would look down with enormous pride and great encouragement given what will take place here over the next two days.

Like many others in this room, our reconciliation journey has been an education. It has been shocking at times and emotional at others. But equally we have been lifted and inspired by so many of the young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders we have been lucky enough to work with at the KGI.

We have reflected on the past with sorrow, embraced the present with commitment, and looked to the future with great belief.

Belief that this will be a country, where respect, trust and positive relationships underpin our collective way of life.

A country where First People determine their own futures. A country where we celebrate, learn from and take enormous pride in the rich history of our First Australians.

And what better way to progress that cause than to have 300-plus like-minded people in the one room, willing to share learnings, challenge the status quo and work collaboratively to find meaningful ways forward.

Again, when I reflect on our reconciliation journey, it has simply made us a better Club. A more understanding Club, a more caring Club and a more connected Club. It is now a part of who we are, what we stand for and we are much better for it on and off the field.

And that to me is the simplicity of it – true reconciliation can only make us a better country.

But of course, the complexity of it is ingrained in our everyday life and therein lies the challenge before us all over the next two days.

I wish you all the best over the next two days and look forward to what is collectively shared, learned and importantly actioned once we all leave this facility.

I would like to finish by again thanking Reconciliation Australia for their guidance and support. In many ways they gave us the confidence to step into this space, to ask questions, to build partnerships, to get things wrong, but, ultimately to play a leadership role. I have no doubt they have done the same for many in this room.

And I want to thank each person and organisation for being here today. We are all a part of the solution.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale with Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine in the Maurice Rioli Room on Wednesday morning.