Taking practical steps towards reconciliation

Amanda Lyons

30/05/2019 3:27:24 PM

Reconciliation Action Plans are designed to offer a way for organisations and businesses to embed the values of unity and cultural sensitivity.

Reconciliation Action Plans.
Reconciliation Action Plans provide a practical framework for businesses to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and needs into their operations.

Research has shown a strong appetite for reconciliation between its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
But, on an organisational level, it can be difficult to know what actions to take in working towards this goal.
‘Sometimes, we don’t know what we should or could be doing, but when people come up with logical processes or logical ideas or projects to address something, for the most part, Australians will support it because it makes sense to them,’ Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive Karen Mundine told newsGP.
Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs), which were launched in 2006 by then-Prime Minister John Howard to be administered by Reconciliation Australia, provide a means by which organisations can incorporate the goal of reconciliation into their everyday business practice.
‘The RAP is a business plan, it’s a structure and a framework for an organisation to think about relationships, respect, and opportunities. If we can build respectful relationships, then other opportunities will flow from that,’ Ms Mundine said.
‘[RAPs provide] a bit of a checklist to help organisations think through, what could we be doing differently? How do we show support, how do we change our thinking, at times, about that? And how does that thinking get translated into the operational things that we do?’

Karen-Mundine-Article-(1).jpgCEO of Reconciliation of Australia, Karen Mundine, descibes RAPs as a useful framework for incorporating reconciliation values and goals into daily business operations.
Reconciliation Australia offers four different workplace RAP frameworks:

  • Reflect
  • Innovate
  • Stretch
  • Elevate
‘The four kinds of RAPs are about where an organisation is and the capacity it has to do small and large things,’ Ms Mundine explained. ‘All of these contribute to reconciliation, but some organisations can have a bigger impact and a bigger footprint in terms of the change that they can do.’
The frameworks can be accessed via Reconciliation Australia’s website, which enables organisations to develop an RAP, submit their draft for review and receive assistance and resources throughout the process from Narragunnawali, Reconciliation Australia’s free online support platform.
The RACGP implemented its first RAP in 2014 using the Reflect model, which is designed to get organisations started by scoping reconciliation.
The RACGP’s Reflect RAP contains the following vision statements: 
  • Increase our employees’ understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and perspectives
  • Embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into everyday practice at the RACGP
  • Develop and maintain effective and sustainable relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, communities and individuals, who will influence our members and stakeholders to deliver culturally-appropriate care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and communities
Some of the goals achieved by the RACGP through this RAP framework include progressing a comprehensive cultural awareness program for all staff; acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events of significance; developing a relationship with the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the land on which the National office is located, and creating the Closing the gap with the RACGP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander GPs document.

However, the RAP is a living document, and the RACGP is in the process of moving on to the next step – developing an Innovate RAP, which involves implementing reconciliation.
Goals of an Innovate RAP include developing and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, engaging staff and stakeholders in reconciliation, and developing and piloting innovative strategies to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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