FAQs

Your questions about the RAP program answered.

Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan

Why should I develop a RAP?

RAPs are a powerful tool for advancing reconciliation in Australia. By developing a RAP, your workplace will join a community of over 1,000 dedicated corporate, government, and civil society organisations that have formally committed to reconciliation through the RAP framework since 2006. RAPs provide a structured, nationally recognised, tried and tested model for workplaces to formalise commitments to reconciliation. RAPs help to foster a community of shared value, goals and a common language when it comes to reconciliation. Developing a RAP through Reconciliation Australia’s endorsement process provides your workplace permission to use the nationally recognised RAP logo that demonstrates compliance with the RAP framework and standards.

Across Australia, RAP organisations are turning good intentions into positive actions, helping to build higher trust, lower prejudice, and increased pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. This collective action is creating the right environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to access sustainable employment and business opportunities, and contributing to a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.

For more information about the impact of the RAP program, please read the latest RAP Impact Measurement Report.

Who can develop a RAP?

To develop a RAP, first and foremost your organisation must be a workplace, i.e. have paid employees. In addition, your workplace needs to have a certain degree of autonomy to ensure you have the capacity to turn good intentions into action. A RAP should also cover an entire organisation, i.e. sit at the parent entity within Australia. To decide whether a RAP is right for your workplace, read more here.

If you are a school, pre-school, child care, before/after school care or early learning service, please use the tailored RAP builder available via the Narragunnawali platform. If you are a church you can develop a Church Action Plan using the Walk Alongside Church Toolkit for Reconciliation.

If a RAP is not right for your organisation, consider taking action in some of the alternate ways.

  • Utilise the RAP framework (i.e. Relationships, Respect, Opportunities), resources and templates for ideas of reconciliation initiatives you can implement within your sphere of influence.
  • Organise a National Reconciliation Week event between 27 May and 3 June each year, and register your event on the website.
  • Develop a business case for your parent/national/central organisation to develop a RAP.
  • Pledge your support to national campaigns supporting social justice outcomes amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, e.g.:
    • Commit to take action against racism through It stops with me.
    • Join 200,000 Australians committed to Close the Gap in health equality by 2030.
    • Take the pledge to Change the Record on soaring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates and levels of experienced violence.
    • Join Family Matters to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safe and cared for in family, community and culture.

Can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations develop a RAP?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are encouraged to develop a RAP if you feel it will enhance your organisation’s core business and/or contribution to reconciliation. Like non-Indigenous organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are diverse, so you should follow the same advice on whether a RAP is right for your organisation as any other organisation would. Whilst the RAP framework is heavily centered on how organisations can develop relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities, it is helpful for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to use this model in reverse as well, i.e. how can your organisation develop relationships with non-Indigenous organisations and communities?

What type of RAP should my workplace develop (Reflect, Innovate, Stretch, Elevate)?

There are four different types of RAP that your workplace can develop: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Each type of RAP is designed to suit workplaces at different stages of their reconciliation journey. Typically, workplaces begin with a Reflect RAP, which provides a roadmap to begin their reconciliation journey. In other instances, especially where a workplace is already engaged in various reconciliation activities, workplaces may choose to start with an Innovate RAP, or less commonly a Stretch RAP. To develop an Elevate RAP, your workplace must first develop and implement a Stretch RAP and demonstrate strong outcomes through reporting.

When your workplace is ready to renew their RAP, you may choose to repeat the same RAP type if appropriate, or shift focus by developing a different type of RAP. Choosing a type of RAP is about finding the best fit to guide your reconciliation journey at this point in time.

Read more information about which RAP is right for your organisation here or contact a RAP team member to discuss your options: raps@reconciliation.org.au.

How long will it take to develop a RAP?

The time it takes to develop a RAP varies greatly from organisation to organisation, and depends on the type of RAP your workplace chooses to develop. We recommend finding a balance between taking the time necessary to develop a meaningful RAP, while not taking so long as to lose momentum and motivation. Some of the key considerations to keep in mind when setting your workplace’s timelines for the development of the RAP include.

  • The time required to set up an effective RAP Working Group (optional during development of a Reflect RAP).
  • The level of consultation/engagement that is appropriate to conduct with stakeholders in your sphere of influence (both internal staff and/or external stakeholders).
  • Your workplace’s internal review and approval process.
  • Reconciliation Australia’s review and endorsement process.
  • The design, communications and marketing strategy that sits behind your RAP. E.g. Will you plan a large launch event, or will you have a ‘soft’ launch of your RAP only?
  • The time of year that your workplace chooses the develop and launch a RAP. E.g. If you plan to launch your RAP during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) or NAIDOC Week (1st to 2nd Sunday of July) you will need to allow for longer timeframes as these are Reconciliation Australia’s peak periods.
  • The type of RAP (Reflect, Innovate, Stretch or Elevate) your workplace chooses to develop.

As a rough guide, the following table provides indicative timeframes and key expectations for developing each RAP type. For Elevate RAPs, please contact the RAP team: raps@reconciliation.org.au.

Timeframes and key expectations for RAP development

  REFLECT INNOVATE STRETCH
Timeframe 1 – 2 months 3 – 6 months 6 – 12 months
Key expectations Optional to establish a RAP Working Group to oversee development of the RAP.

Must gain senior level approval to develop a RAP.

Limited internal consultation and engagement needed.

 

RAP Working Group must oversee the development of the RAP.

Must conduct internal consultation and engagement.

Must conduct consultation and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

External consultation and engagement recommended.

RAP Working Group must oversee the development of the RAP.

Must conduct thorough consultation and engagement with internal, external and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

 

What is the process for developing, reviewing and getting a RAP endorsed?

The first step for developing a RAP is assessing whether a RAP is right for your organisation. After this, there are some key steps involved to ensure your workplace’s RAP is eligible for Reconciliation Australia’s endorsement.

  1. Select your RAP type.
  2. Establish a RAP Working Group (optional if your workplace has chosen to develop a Reflect RAP).
  3. Register your interest, or start your RAP using the relevant online form via the RAP webpage.

Upon registration, you will receive further templates, guides, resources and instructions on completing RAP development and Reconciliation Australia endorsement.

Can I develop a RAP without Reconciliation Australia’s endorsement?

Developing a RAP is optional, and is by no means the only way to increase your workplace’s contribution to reconciliation and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. If your workplace chooses to develop its own strategies concerning reconciliation, this is perfectly acceptable. However, in these instances please remember that the Reconciliation Australia and RAP logos, as well as the words ‘Reconciliation Action Plan’ or ‘RAP’ are registered trademarks owned by Reconciliation Australia through IP Australia, and must not be used.

If you wish to call your plan a ‘Reconciliation Action Plan’ or ‘RAP’ and/or use the Reconciliation Australia or RAP logo, you must gain Reconciliation Australia’s permission through compliance with the endorsement process.

Can I register and access the RAP templates and resources without committing to develop a RAP?

We are delighted by the broad community interest we receive in the RAP program, in particular universities, training organisations and students. Any member of the community is welcome to register their interest in developing a RAP via the online registration form. Registering your interest does not commit your workplace to developing a RAP.

Once you register your interest, you will receive further information, templates, guides and resources that you are welcome to use for the purpose of information sharing and education.

What level of consultation is required to develop a RAP?

The level of consultation/engagement that is appropriate to conduct with stakeholders in your sphere of influence varies greatly from organisation to organisation, and depends upon which type of RAP your workplace chooses to develop.

As a rough guide, the following table provides some key expectations for consultation and engagement that is appropriate for each RAP type. For Elevate RAPs, please contact the RAP team: raps@reconciliation.org.au.

Timeframes and key expectations for RAP development
  REFLECT INNOVATE STRETCH
Timeframe 1 – 2 months 3 – 6 months 6 – 12 months
Key expectations Optional to establish a RAP Working Group to oversee development of the RAP.

Must gain senior level approval to develop a RAP.

Limited internal consultation and engagement needed.

 

RAP Working Group must oversee the development of the RAP.

Must conduct internal consultation and engagement.

Must conduct consultation and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

External consultation and engagement recommended.

RAP Working Group must oversee the development of the RAP.

Must conduct thorough consultation and engagement with internal, external and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

 

What if we don’t have any Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, how do we go about consultation?

Establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders is a key action that all organisations developing a RAP are required to commit to. If you do not currently have any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander staff or relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, this may signal that the Reflect RAP is best suited to your workplace. To develop a Reflect RAP, consultation with stakeholders is optional, as the Reflect RAP is designed to assist your workplace to map your stakeholders and lay the foundations internally to prepare your organisation for future RAPs and reconciliation initiatives.

If you wish to develop an Innovate, Stretch or Elevate RAP, but do not have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, please discuss your circumstances with a RAP team member before commencing: raps@reconciliation.org.au.

How much does it cost to develop a RAP?

Reconciliation Australia’s RAP framework, templates, guides and resources are publically available and free to access. To access, all you need to do is complete the online registration form to get started. Reconciliation Australia’s review and endorsement process is also provided free of charge.

Beyond Reconciliation Australia’s support, calculating the resources and finances required to develop, implement and report on your RAP is an important part of committing to a RAP. The amount of resources and finances required to develop, implement and report on your RAP will depend on:

  • The size of your workplace.
  • Which type of RAP your workplace chooses to develop.
  • The composition of your RAP Working Group (optional if developing a Reflect RAP). E.g. will you invite external members to sit on the group and need to remunerate them?
  • The level of consultation/engagement that is appropriate to conduct with stakeholders in your sphere of influence (both internal staff and/or external stakeholders).
  • The design, communications and marketing strategy that sits behind your RAP. E.g. Will you plan a large launch event, or will you have a ‘soft’ launch of your RAP only?
  • If you choose to engage a consultant to assist with development, implementation or evaluation.
  • If you require dedicated resources or budget to implement actions in your RAP. E.g. a dedicated ‘Reconciliation Officer’ position within your organisation.

Is there any funding available to develop our organisation’s RAP?

Reconciliation Australia does not provide organisations with funding to develop a RAP. Developing a RAP is optional, and is an important business decision your organisation should make, factoring in the resources and finances required to develop, implement and report on your RAP.

Whilst funding streams for the development of RAPs are rare, there are a range of grants available throughout the year that may assist your organisation with implementing specific actions within your RAP. In particular, keep an eye out for grants your state and/or local government offer throughout the year. Small grants are commonly offered for community groups and organisations to run National Reconciliation Week activities from 27 May to 3 June each year.

Launching a Reconciliation Action Plan

Is my organisation required to organise a launch event?

The design, communications and marketing strategy that sits behind your RAP is completely up to your organisation, and may or may not include a formal RAP launch event. Whilst it is not compulsory to hold a RAP launch event, many organisations find a launch event or activity, coupled with some media coverage, a great way to let your broader community and sphere of influence know about your commitment to reconciliation. A launch event or activity can assist to connect with other like-minded organisations and identify mutually beneficial partnerships. If your organisation would like to hold a RAP launch event or activity, it is useful to reflect upon the following questions to ensure you maximize on your event.

  • Who is the target audience for the event? E.g. is the event targeted at internal staff only or external stakeholders within our sphere of influence.
  • What are the key messages we would like our event to convey?
  • How can we best convey our key messages? E.g. should we organise key speakers, a storyteller, or paint an artwork together?

Can someone from Reconciliation Australia attend or speak at our launch event?

Reconciliation Australia is staffed by a small number of employees based in Sydney and Canberra. We feel privileged to be invited to attend and speak at various RAP launch and reconciliation events throughout the year, and make our best effort to attend as many as we can. In some circumstances, especially during National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, we are unable to accept all invitations.

To help us accommodate your invitations, please download and complete the speaker request form and send to raps@reconciliation.org.au along with your invitation. Please complete as many details in the form as possible to ensure we can prioritise and allocate a suitable speaker.

What are Reconciliation Australia’s requirements for the final design and publication or my organisation’s RAP?

It is a compulsory requirement of RAP endorsement to make your final RAP publically available via the Reconciliation Australia website. This is a crucial step to maintain the accountability of the RAP program.

The design of your organisation’s final RAP for publication is your organisation’s decision, however we do ask all organisations to go through the following checklist prior to submitting your final designed RAP to Reconciliation Australia for publication.

  • Ensure you have used the RAP logo provided upon conditional endorsement of your draft RAP.
  • Ensure that the RAP logo provided is included on the front page of your RAP.
  • Refer to the RAP Brand Guide to ensure the logo is incorporated correctly (provided upon conditional endorsement).
  • If using Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artwork or imagery in your RAP, please acknowledge the artist and the story behind it, as well as gaining necessary permission under copyright laws and cultural protocols.
  • If using photographs, ensure permissions are sought from photographers and individuals depicted in all photographs.
  • Complete a final proof read for grammar and spelling.

Reconciliation Action Plan reporting

When is the RAP Impact Measurement Report due by each year?

The RAP Impact Measurement Questionnaire is due by 30th September each year. To ensure you meet this deadline, we recommend your organisation develops an ongoing process for tracking progress and collecting data throughout the year. Your organisation will be emailed a copy of the questionnaire to fill out online by August each year. If you require the questionnaire questions prior to this date, please refer to the previous year’s RAP Impact Measurement FAQs as a guide. The questionnaire questions may change slightly each year, however, most will remain the same in order to track long term trends.

What happens if my workplace does not meet its reporting requirements?

The reporting requirements for each type of RAP (Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate) are clearly outlined in the mandatory actions and deliverables under the ‘Governance’ pillar for each RAP type. Your workplace should aim to achieve all your reporting deliverables by the timelines you have committed to in your RAP. If your workplace is unable to meet your reporting requirements, please reflect on why this is, and discuss challenges and solutions internally and with Reconciliation Australia.

If your workplace does not meet its reporting requirements, and does not demonstrate how it has taken steps to overcome reporting challenges in the future, this may affect the ongoing endorsement of your RAP by Reconciliation Australia.

What are Reconciliation Australia’s requirements for the final design and publication or my organisation’s RAP?

It is a compulsory requirement of RAP endorsement to make your final RAP publically available via the Reconciliation Australia website. This is a crucial step to maintain the accountability of the RAP program.

The design of your organisation’s final RAP for publication is your organisation’s decision, however we do ask all organisations to go through the following checklist prior to submitting your final designed RAP to Reconciliation Australia for publication.

  • Ensure you have used the RAP logo provided upon conditional endorsement of your draft RAP.
  • Ensure that the RAP logo provided is included on the front page of your RAP.
  • Refer to the RAP Brand Guide to ensure the logo is incorporated correctly (provided upon conditional endorsement).
  • If using Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artwork or imagery in your RAP, please acknowledge the artist and the story behind it, as well as gaining necessary permission under copyright laws and cultural protocols.
  • If using photographs, ensure permissions are sought from photographers and individuals depicted in all photographs.
  • Complete a final proof read for grammar and spelling.

What if my workplace does not complete everything in our RAP before it expires?

Reconciliation is a learning process and sometimes workplaces do not deliver on all their reconciliation commitments outlined in the RAP. This is ok, so long as your workplace takes steps to grow from the challenges, build on the successes, and communicate its learnings publically.

If your workplace does not deliver on all its RAP commitments by the time the RAP expires, you will need to demonstrate your workplace’s learning and ongoing commitment to reconciliation before submitting your next draft RAP to Reconciliation Australia for endorsement. The easiest way to achieve this is through public reporting. All workplaces with a RAP (except Reflect RAPs) are required to report publically to their stakeholders on the progress against RAP commitments.  Reconciliation Australia does not provide a standard format or guide on this as the most effective way to report will differ between different types and sizes of organisations, as well as sectors. For example, large corporates may wish to opt for a detailed ‘traffic light report’ against each of their RAP commitments, whilst a small not-for-profit may choose to include a short report as part of the organisation’s broader annual report.

My workplace’s RAP has expired. What do I need to do?

The first step to take once your organisation’s RAP has expired is to reflect on your learnings, challenges and successes of your RAP journey so far. All RAP organisations (except Reflect) are required to report publically, which is a good first step for reflecting upon your RAP.

After reflecting on your previous RAP, you should revisit the same steps your workplace took when developing your first RAP, i.e.:

  1. Select your RAP type.
  2. Review/re-establish your RAP Working Group.
  3. Register your interest, or start your RAP using the relevant online form via the RAP webpage.

To avoid large gaps in time between your previous RAP and new RAP, ideally you should start this process before your RAP expires. The following timeframes are recommended based on which type of RAP your workplace is looking to develop.

  REFLECT INNOVATE STRETCH
Timeline 1 – 2 months 3 – 6 months 6 – 12 months

How do we measure cultural competence amongst our own staff?

Measuring your employee’s knowledge about reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories and cultures is a crucial component of developing, implementing and reporting on your workplace’s RAP. Beyond participation in the biennial Workplace RAP Barometer, Reconciliation Australia does not promote any specific approach to conducting this activity.

To measure staff knowledge, most workplaces opt for a survey-style activity. You should consult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and/or cultural advisors for the types of questions to ask, however, a few examples of questions to gather a baseline understanding include:

  • Have employees had formal cultural training in the past? If so, when and what type (online, face-to-face, immersion)?
  • Have employees participated in reconciliation or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events such as National Reconciliation Week or NAIDOC Week?
  • Questions around relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultural understanding/competency, historical acceptance and race relations.

Options other than a survey include:

  • Engaging/contracting independent social researchers or consultants.
  • Relying on managers to proactively gauge their staff’s level of knowledge and understanding and report to the RAP Working Group on this.
  • Running focus groups.
  • Interviewing/having conversations with individual staff.

Do RAPs achieve meaningful change?

RAPs are a powerful tool for advancing reconciliation. Each year over 100 new organisations join the RAP program, making commitments to advance reconciliation within their sphere of influence.

It is through this growing community that the RAP program is able to achieve substantial and sustainable change. In 2017, the RAP community reported:

  • 9,579 partnerships between RAP organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities.
  • $265,706,519 worth of goods and services procured from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
  • 24,275 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples employed with RAP organisations.

We also know that RAPs help to improve attitudes and perceptions toward reconciliation amongst employees. In 2017, workplaces with a RAP reported:

  • Higher trust: 77% of employees in RAP organisations have high trust for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, compared with 24% of the broader Australian community.
  • Lower prejudice: 6% of employees in RAP organisations believe that prejudice between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians is high, compared with 49% of the broader Australian community.
  • Pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures: 77% of employees in RAP organisations are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, compared with 60% of the broader Australian community.

For more information about the impact of the RAP program, please read the latest RAP Impact Measurement Report.

Respectful language and protocols

What are the protocols for flying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags? Do I need to seek permission from anyone?

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags should be flown and displayed in a dignified manner. This means they should not be:

  • Used as a curtain to unveil a monument or plaque.
  • Used as a table or seat cover.
  • Flown at night unless properly lit.
  • Tattered, torn or dilapidated.

It is also important that the local community is consulted prior to raising of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

The general rule to follow when flying flags is the Australia flag takes position of precedence, followed by state or territory flags, and finally the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

In 1997, the Federal Court of Australia declared that Harold Thomas was the owner of the copyright in the design of the Aboriginal flag. Since then, he has awarded world rights solely to Carroll and Richardson Flagworld Pty Ltd for the manufacture and marketing of the flag.

The Torres Strait Islander flag was designed by the late Mr Bernard Namok. The copyright of the Torres Strait Islander flag is now held by the Torres Strait Island Regional Council.

For further information about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, how they should be displayed and copyright, please read the following Q&A resource for flying the flags.

What is the correct language to use when discussing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and histories?

Using respectful and inclusive language and terminology is an essential component of reconciliation. The ways we speak about reconciliation is just as important as the ways we act: language is itself active, and can impact on attitudes, understandings and relationships in a very real and active sense.

Given the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and identities across Australia, you should always seek advice from your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders regarding preferences and protocols around terminology.

As a general guideline, the following terminology is most commonly considered best practice.

  • Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, First Nations and First Peoples are commonly accepted terms.
  • The word ‘Indigenous’ can be considered offensive in some parts of the country.
  • ‘Aborigines’, ‘full-blood,’ ‘half-caste’ and ‘quarter-caste’ are extremely offensive and should never be used when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Pluralisation should be used when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and should also extend to generalised reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘histories,’ ‘perspectives,’ ‘ways of being,’ ‘contributions,’ and so forth.
  • Capitalisation should be used when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and should also extend to reference to First Peoples/Nations/Australians, Indigenous (if it is used at all), Elders, Traditional Owners/Custodians, Country, Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country.

For more comprehensive guidance, please review the following resource on demonstrating inclusive and respectful language.

What is the difference between a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country?

A Welcome to Country is a ceremony provided by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Elders, or Traditional Owners who have been given permission, to welcome visitors onto traditional lands.

An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Australia’s Traditional Owners, and the continuing connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have to the land, sea, sky and waterways. An Acknowledgement of Country can be given by anyone, and is generally offered at the beginning of a meeting, speech or formal occasion.

For further information about the protocols for each, please review the following resource discussing Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country.