We need to celebrate success

 In News

By Reconciliation Australia Co-Chair Dr Tom Calma AO

Recently I was privileged to attend Reconciliation Australia’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Showcase held at the Great Hall in Parliament House. The showcase highlighted the critical successes achieved by our RAP community, and celebrated the organisations and individuals that are making a real and lasting difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The showcase presented the work of some of the nearly 400 organisations which have developed a RAP in partnership with Reconciliation Australia.

The RAP Showcase coincided with the release of two major reports: the third Australian Reconciliation Barometer and the second RAP Impact Measurement Report.  The Barometer studies the attitudes of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Australians, and other Australians towards reconciliation and the RAP Impact Measurement report studies the attitudes of people who work or study within an organisation with a RAP.

Dr Calma with Charlie King from the ABC.

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 don’t believe it is very good.

Only around half of those surveyed felt personally proud of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. All in all, the poll found we don’t trust each other.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Australians have not done well in healing our past and building positive relationships between the First Peoples and other Australians.

There are, however, very encouraging signs coming from the other study; the RAP Impact Measurement report.This report demonstrates that our RAP program is transforming the culture and behaviour of workplaces across Australia and delivering thousands of jobs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Reconciliation Australia’s model of relationships, respect and opportunities is at the heart of the Reconciliation Action Plan program and is driving significant cultural and social change and creating work environments that welcome and support diversity in the workplace.

We can say this with some confidence, as we have applied the same methodology used in the Australian Reconciliation Barometer to nearly 5000 employees of RAP organisations—and the results are startling.Compared the general community 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).

Dr Calma with Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong at the RAP Showcase event.

These results are truly remarkable and leave no doubt that our partnerships with RAP organisations, governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are working.

A change in attitudes is crucial to advancing reconciliation—and ultimately improving relationships.

Here in Australia we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world. This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.

We aim for an Australia where all children have the opportunity to be treated respectfully, to have choices in employment, to become a manager, to be given a genuine chance and supported to reach their full potential.

RAP organisations give us all a glimpse of the better nation we are building.

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