With a strong commitment to building respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, AusGroup has joined the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program and has recently received formal endorsement from Reconciliation Australia.

The commitment to working towards the objectives contained within the RAP reflect that process is a genuine intent by AusGroup to support the national reconciliation movement. Support for the process is evident at all levels of the organisation, and a Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group together with the broader business has been established to provide both oversight of the program and the championing of initiatives contained within it.

“Delivering the actions and outcomes of the RAP is a high priority for us. I have been personally involved in the development of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, and commit to developing the knowledge of employees in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, particularly that of the Whadjuk Noongar community where our company was formed”, Shane Kimpton, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of AusGroup said.

Formalised targets for improved relations and opportunities

The RAP (attached below) represents a clear roadmap for AusGroup to accelerate the provision of meaningful employment opportunities. It leverages a number of structures and areas of influence that are already in place – reflecting AusGroup’s history of engagement in the reconciliation space.

“These outcomes contribute towards the five dimensions of reconciliation: race relations, equality and equity; institutional integrity; unity; and historical acceptance,” Karen Mundine, Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia said. 

AusGroup’s RAP contains a number of commitments and targets with actions and deliverables in a number of areas that encompass a number of AusGroup’s operations and locations.

For example, the RAP contains frameworks to:

  • build effective social and professional relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including commitments to offer opportunity, consult, and where possible to implement their preferred solutions;
  • ensure engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is conducted with respect by observing cultural protocols, and increasing understanding of cultures and histories; and
  • secure improved economic participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by providing employment opportunities, training opportunities, greater business engagement and community involvement initiatives.

Sustainable positive impacts have already been measured in the business, with a 240% increase in direct spend with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enterprises for the first 9 months of 2020 when compared to the previous year.

“This improvement in spend is a credit to the ten team members on our cross-functional Project Teams who are working together to drive an increase in the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our workforce and procuring services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses,” Sally Coleman, AusGroup’s Organisational Development Manager – who has lead the development of the company’s first RAP – said.  “It is an outcome we are very proud of.”

Shane Kimpton agrees. “We are very proud of the measurable achievements we have made to date, and we will continue to strive to improve our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enterprises direct spend results,” he said. “But it is not only measurable, financial outcomes that are important to us.  Some of the more lasting impacts of this process can’t be measured. The awareness and respect of indigenous cultures, particularly those cultures within our operational areas, is fundamental for us at AusGroup.”

According to Karen Mundine, awareness is a key element of the reconciliation process. “It is critical to not only uphold all five dimensions of reconciliation, but also increase awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, knowledge, and leadership across all sectors of Australian society,” she said.

A commitment to cultural awareness, and a celebration of NAIDOC week

A number of activities have been planned at AusGroup during NAIDOC week to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and to recognise cultural diversity.

“We have activities planned for each day of NAIDOC week,” Sally Coleman explains. “We have organised internal events within our offices and have also arranged for our team members and their families to participate in some of the external events in and around Perth. It’s a real opportunity for us to celebrate and enjoy indigenous culture.”

A highlight of the week is a NAIDOC morning tea featuring native botanical ingredients including salt bush, wattle seeds, and lemon myrtle.  Sweet and savoury treats on the menu will be made by AusGroup staff members. “It’s important to us that we don’t just use external catering for our NAIDOC function”, Sally Coleman said. “Making things ourselves is much more meaningful to us. It gives us a real chance to learn as much as we can about native ingredients, and we think it shows a real commitment to our AusGroup reconciliation journey.”

The morning tea will be followed by a Boodja Gnarning walk in Kings Park.