RAPs: delivering tangible benefits for a reconciled future

The 1,100 organisations contributing to Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program procured over $2 billion worth of goods and services from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, and provided a further $50 million worth of pro bono services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, organisations or communities, a new report shows.

The latest RAP Impact Report combines data collected from the compulsory reporting required of RAP organisations with the results of the Workplace RAP Barometer survey, showing the tangible, positive and sustained effect the RAP program has had on advancing reconciliation in 2019-20.

Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said the RAP program is making a difference by markedly changing the way people think and feel about reconciliation, colonisation, and the relationship between non-Indigenous and First Nations peoples in Australia.

“Our program is large and diverse—there is no such thing as a ‘generic RAP’. All RAPs are unique and tailored to the business, industry, and context of the particular partner.”

“Using a business plan with strong, reportable targets, RAPs turn goodwill into action, embedding reconciliation into an organisation’s work and sphere of influence.”

“After 15 years and with more organisations than ever before engaging in the RAP program, the Report shows the program is creating tangible benefits and real momentum for reconciliation.”

Key to the combined story of 2019-20 is:

  • Close to 3 million Australians now work or study within an organisation that has an active RAP and close to another 3 million are members of organisations which have RAPs, such as sporting clubs.
  • $49,155,196 donated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations
  • 300,000 RAP employees participated in cultural learning
  • 63,973 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are employed in RAP organisations
  • $2,086,255,726 procured from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses

But it’s not all about big figures.

The Workplace RAP Barometer shows employees within RAP organisations are consistently more aware of the reality and impacts of racism, of the consequences of European colonisation and government policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today, and support truth-telling in regards to that history.

There is still work to be done

The RAP Impact Report also shows where we need to go next and some of the pressing work we still need to do, especially in the realm of leadership and awareness.

“In this same period, partners have broken trust and breached relationships and in each case Reconciliation Australia demanded they take ownership and responsibility for their actions”, said Ms Mundine.

“It’s important to remember that RAPs are not the sole solution to 250 years of colonisation.”

“Rather, they are a useful and accessible starting point for organisations—and the individuals within them—to consider and address systemic inequalities and leverage their collective influence for a more just and equitable society.”

“Every RAP is assessed by Reconciliation Australia and requires RAP partners to annually report, and regularly redevelop their commitments to reconciliation, in ways that stretch and challenge them, as they move from safe to brave actions.”

“This is why each RAP is different and each tells a different story.”

Background: RAP Impact Report

The annual RAP Impact Measurement Report describes the substantial cumulative impact of the RAP program’s activity across all walks of Australian life, from July 2019 – June 2020.
The 2020 Report is the combined results of the Workplace Reconciliation BarometerAustralian Reconciliation Barometer and RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire.
The Workplace RAP Barometer measures perceptions and attitudes in participating RAP organisations.
It has been conducted every two years since 2012, and the 2020 WRB features responses from 28,043 people across 92 organisations.
The Australian Reconciliation Barometer tracks those same perceptions and attitudes across the whole Australian community and has been conducted every two years since 2008.
The annual RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire collected data from 756 RAP organisations in the July 2019 to June 2020 reporting period.
Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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