Indigenous action plans: they’re working!

by 08 Feb 2012

Five years on from the official introduction of workplace reconciliation action plans (RAPs), more than 280 organisations have signed on and several of the nation’s high-profile CEOs say it’s changed the way their companies do business.

In the first impact measurement report released by Reconciliation Australia this week, new statistics have revealed that widespread take-up on RAPs has resulted in the employment of more than 13,000 indigenous Australians, and cultural awareness training to 22,000. Reconciliation Australia co-chairman Dr Tom Calma said RAPs help to create a culture of respect in the workplace. “[RAPs] provide framework for organisations to pursue reconciliation through clear actions and commitments focussed on respect, relationships and opportunities and this is producing results.”

Reconciliation Australia co-chair Melinda Cilento added that while the RAP program is ambitious, it has been successful because it fosters “genuine partnerships” between organisations and indigenous people.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank executive manager Symon Brewis-Weston said a two-day staff reconciliation retreat in north east Arnhem Land as part of the RAP had “allowed a deeper understanding of a very misunderstood subject”.

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder said the corporation had chosen to participate because it was committed to playing a part in "wiping out the unacceptable gaps that exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community".

Dr Calma said the report also highlighted the benefits to organisations with a RAP, namely the sustainability of the indigenous workforce in more remote areas. “[Employers] are able to have a win-win situation because when we particularly look into some of rural and remote areas where say mining is taking place, if you can employ somebody locally and have a sustainable workforce – that is of obvious benefit to the company.”


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