New research released today shows Reconciliation Australia and its Reconciliation Action Plan program are having a profound impact on increasing awareness and understanding between Australia’s First Peoples and other Australians, and significantly aiding efforts to close the disparity gap.

While Reconciliation Australia’s research shows that most people in Australia do not believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is strong, this is not the case in organisations with a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The research is contained in two reports; the 2012 Australian Reconciliation Barometer and the Reconciliation Action Plan Impact Measurement Report 2012.

Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs, Dr Tom Calma AO and Ms Melinda Cilento, said the Barometer found that while the vast majority of Australians believe that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians is important, most do not believe it is very good, with just half of those surveyed believing the relationship is improving.

“The 2012 Barometer shows that overall, we don’t trust each other and only around half of those surveyed felt personally proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures,” Dr Calma said.

He said that while the Barometer has found little significant change in attitudes nationally there are very encouraging indicators in Reconciliation Australia’s second publication, the Reconciliation Action Plan Impact Measurement Report 2012.

“There are now over 350 Australian organisations with a RAP and these employ nearly 19,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; purchase around $58 million of services from certified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses; provide more than $15 million worth of pro-bono support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and contribute more than $15m towards educational scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students,” he said. “These very practical benefits arising from the RAPs indicate that the work of Reconciliation Australia in this key area adds substantially to the national effort to close the gap.”

Dr Calma said the benefits from RAPs impacted in both remote and regional areas as well as in the large urban centres of Australia.

Co-Chair Melinda Cilento said the effectiveness of RAPs demonstrates the imperative of partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“When Reconciliation Australia successfully brings together business, government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to work respectfully and cooperatively the benefits are impressive.

“But RAPs are about more than creating jobs and opportunities; they are also having an enormous impact on reducing mistrust and ignorance, and building real personal relationships between First Peoples and other Australians. “Compared with the statistics related to general community attitudes in the Barometer, the
RAP Impact measurement report shows that people in RAP organisations have much higher levels of trust between each other (71 per cent compared to 13 per cent); are far less prejudiced (9 per cent compared to 70 per cent); and have greater pride in Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander cultures (77 per cent compared to 51 per cent),” Ms Cilento said.

Ms Cilento said that 95 per cent of surveyed employees in RAP organisations believe the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous staff is good compared with 46 per cent in the general community. “In short, RAPs are changing workplace culture and attitudes and are laying the foundation for significant economic and social outcomes.”

Dr Calma and Ms Cilento said the RAP program was likely to continue growing with a further 200 plans under development and Reconciliation Australia’s outreach expanding into schools and other community groups.

Please note: Reconciliation Australia is hosting a RAP Showcase on Wednesday 6 February to highlight the work organisations with Reconciliation Action Plans have had in assisting with the Close the Gap initiatives. The RAP Showcase will be attended by the Prime Minister and other politicians and features 40 booths and 12 x 15 minute presentations by organisations from across the RAP community. The Showcase will be held in the Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra from 9am – 4pm.

Media Contact: Al Harris 0409658177 al.harris@reconciliation.org.au

Reconciliation Australia is the national body promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Read the 2012 Australian Reconciliation Barometer and the Reconciliation Action Plan Impact Measurement Report 2012

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