ADVOCACY & PARTNERSHIP

RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN

Work on the Society’s reconciliation commitments focused on respect, relationships and opportunities continued under the umbrella of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

To strengthen our relationships, and better ensure our work towards reconciliation is guided by First Nations people, organisations, and communities, we began establishing an Aboriginal Advisory Group. We were also pleased to introduce a newly created role of Aboriginal Engagement Partner, to lead these efforts into the future.

At the local level, our members, volunteers, and services have established dozens of collaborative relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. These come in many different forms and include outreach arrangements, referral agreements, sponsorships, joint events, and other forms of partnership.

As a sign of respect, we continued the process of putting up plaques of acknowledgement in sites across NSW. This has involved many discussions with local elders and communities, broadening our understanding of the many lands across which we work.

We laid the footings for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency framework, and as a starting point have taken steps to ensure all staff are aware of our commitment to reconciliation, and have completed an introductory module on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Inclusion and Cultural Safety.

To support the creation of opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, our recently approved new procurement policy incorporates guidelines to prioritise Indigenous suppliers, and we have begun a commercial relationship with Indigenous Business Outback Global.

Following the recruitment of key roles in the People and Culture Directorate, the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and retention strategy is a key priority for the 2020/21 financial year.

RECONCILIATION AND THE LOCAL AREA COORDINATION (LAC) PROGRAM

Creating a culturally safe and inclusive environment was a central consideration in our delivery of the Local Area Coordination Program, which has supported thousands of people to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In fact, it was efforts to better support Aboriginal people and communities to access the scheme that first prompted the development of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

In 2019/20 alone, the LAC program contributed to over 250 engagement events with Aboriginal communities and organisations. Efforts to ensure LAC offices were reflective of a welcoming environment included seeking Aboriginal names for meeting rooms, placing acknowledgement plaques in the reception areas, and displaying the Aboriginal Language Map and artworks produced by local Aboriginal artists.

At the core of this work, however, were our people. Our Aboriginal Local Area Coordinators and Engagement Officers were instrumental not only in making sure the program was culturally safe for participants, but in building the cultural competency of our workforce and improving retention and recruitment practices; work that will now inform efforts across the rest of the organisation.

Within the LAC Program, an Aboriginal Staff Network provided opportunities for connection, support, and shared learning. One major highlight was an annual cultural gathering which in October 2019 took place on Gomeroi country in Tamworth. Guided by members of the Network, LAC staff also had the opportunity to take part in workshops, cultural celebrations, and hundreds of perspective-changing conversations.