Driving Reconciliation in South Australia

Shona Reid

Growing up in Central Australia, Eastern Arrernte woman Shona Reid wanted to be a truck driver… then a psychologist. She believes she has found the middle ground in her role as CEO at Reconciliation SA.

‘By driving change for a reconciled and just South Australia, I think I might have found a happy medium,’ says Shona (BBehavSc ’00), who has devoted her professional and personal life to the advancement of Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities.

In 1996 Shona arrived at Flinders University to study a Bachelor of Behavioural Science. Having grown up in the country it was the first time she had ever been to the city.

‘Flinders and the people at Yunggorendi were pivotal in the formation of who I am today,’ says Shona. ‘Not just in my learning and interpretation of those learnings, but in my character growth, my confidence in my cultural connectedness and place of belonging.’

After graduating, Shona went on to a traineeship in the policy unit of the state government’s Family and Youth Services (now Department of Child Protection). Over the next 15 years she continued to work in the child protection, young offending and out-of-home care sectors, from policy through to becoming a supervisor on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

In 2017 Shona became the Executive and Research Officer for the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee. She worked closely with Parliamentary Members from many different political parties and persuasions to assist their understanding and connection to matters important to Aboriginal South Australians.

Now, as CEO of Reconciliation SA, Shona faces the challenging role of leading South Australia’s Reconciliation movement and championing a safe and inclusive state free from racism.

‘We do this by educating, informing, conversing and advocating across and throughout South Australia and nationally,’ she explains.

She is continually inspired by both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people she meets who are joining her mission of Reconciliation.

‘I have met the most amazing and inspirational Aboriginal Elders, community members and young people and I am privileged to learn and grow from them. My way forward will always be through their wisdom, guidance and sage advice.

‘I am also humbled by the commitment of many non-Aboriginal champions and allies, who speak with honesty and integrity about their experiences and biases and how they are using this to create positive change and challenge a society that struggles to undertake the same processes.’

Shona was awarded a 2019 Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award for her significant contribution and commitment to the advancement and rights of Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities. Read the full list of 2019 Alumni Award recipients

From 1 August 2022 Shona will take on the new role of Guardian for Children and Young People in South Australia. Appointed by the Governor of South Australia, the position has the chief responsibility of advocating for children in state care and youth detention. 

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