Reconciliation Action Plan:
Taking action towards closing the gap
Above: Members of the AFL’s Indigenous youth team, the Flying Boomerangs, celebrate with the Officeworks team, after successfully completing a customer service training unit as part of their Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership. The Australian Indigenous Learning Centre approached Officeworks to provide training which involved role plays and classroom-style learning in May 2009.
With more than 207,000 employees and diverse operations in many communities across the country, Wesfarmers recognises that it has the ability to contribute to the goal of closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider community. While some of our businesses have already established strong connections with local Aboriginal communities, this year we have worked towards formalising a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the whole Wesfarmers Group.
Our RAP is focused on ensuring our businesses are places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel welcome and valued, as employees, customers and citizens. We aim to do this in three ways: by providing meaningful employment prospects for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our businesses, by developing relationships with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and by showing and building respect for these cultures in Australia.
Each of our businesses will look at how it can most effectively contribute to reconciliation, through creating opportunities, building relationships and building respect. Across our diverse businesses, there are a number of examples of engagement with Aboriginal communities already underway, through employment initiatives, capacity building and community support. Notwithstanding these examples, we recognise we have an opportunity for our businesses to contribute more to addressing this challenge which is so vital to the future of the Australian community.
Premier Coal partners with local Aboriginal community
Premier Coal, operating in Collie, Western Australia, has recognised for some time the importance and value to its business of a strong partnership with the local Aboriginal community.
In consultation with its local community and the South West Land and Sea Council, Premier Coal has established an Aboriginal Policy.
With very low employment turnover, Premier Coal looked for opportunities to engage its local Aboriginal community other than through the establishment of an employment programme. Since establishing its Aboriginal policy, Premier Coal has initiated cultural competency training for its senior employees; it has engaged an Aboriginal apprentice; and it has also implemented an aquaculture project which has the potential to offer sustainable solutions to both the business and the local community.
Premier Coal has worked with Curtin University and the local Aboriginal community to establish the Ngalang Boodja Aquaculture project. Premier Coal is providing financial and
in-kind support to assist in the rehabilitation of expired mine sites through the establishment of marron ponds operated by the local community. A pilot phase has already been undertaken with six ponds farming marron. A feasibility study is now underway with a further 22 ponds in operation. During this phase, up to 15 local Aboriginal people are training towards a Certificate III in Aquaculture and Land Management. The vision is for up to 100 ponds within 4 to 5 years and the business expanding into raising perch. The water processing required for marron farming slowly improves the quality of the water in the mine void.
This project provides tangible benefits for the environment and for the local Aboriginal community, by providing employment opportunities on the marron farm. For Premier Coal, the project contributes to the business’ goal of rehabilitating mine sites to eventually hand back to the Government with a sustainable plan for land use and improving water quality. In addition, Premier Coal continues to develop and grow its relationship with the local community.
This project is a finalist in the Western Australian Environment Awards 2009 in the ‘Corporate/Business leading by Example’ category.
Above: the Wesfarmers’ Reconciliation Action plan was launched in November 2009 and available online at www.wesfarmers.com.au