Advancing reconciliation in Australia
At Wesfarmers, we are dedicated to advancing reconciliation in Australia and enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and all people, to feel welcome in our businesses as team members, customers, suppliers and visitors.
The size and footprint of our businesses place us in a unique position to partner with local communities, form mutually beneficial relationships and provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and businesses.
To formally document our commitment to reconciliation in Australia, we have a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP outlines the initiatives undertaken in the business and focusses our effort through identified leadership projects. They are:
- addressing the gap in employment between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous youth through our Wesfarmers Group youth employment program
- supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suppliers to grow and scale, through our Building Outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses (BOAB) Fund
- promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture through our partnership with the National Gallery of Australia (NGA).
The current and prior RAP’s can be found here. Our RAP reflects our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs strategy, which is based upon the following five core areas.
1. SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYMENT
Wesfarmers is in a unique position to provide sustainable employment opportunities at scale to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Through a renewed focus on recruitment and retention of Indigenous people this year, we have increased the number of Indigenous team members from 1,858 people at 30 June 2020 to 2,994 as at 30 June 2021, increasing from 1.9 per cent to 2.8 per cent of our Australian workforce.
This figure includes all full-time and part-time Indigenous team members and casual team members who have worked a shift within the 30-day period prior to reporting.
We are on track to meet our target of employment parity of three per cent of our Australian workforce well before December 2022.
2. CAREER PROGRESSION
We recognise we will not truly have achieved equity in employment until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are proportionately represented at all levels of our organisation.
Wesfarmers is committed to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have opportunities to develop and expand their careers. We are leveraging existing talent management processes to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members are offered opportunities to develop and progress through the organisation. We have designed a bespoke leadership development program to address barriers to leadership for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members.
In addition, we have continued to strengthen our partnership with CareerTrackers to form pathways for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students in our business.
3. ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PROCUREMENT
We recognise by increasing the diversity of our supplier base, we can make a real difference to the economic empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and communities. We know when Indigenous businesses are successful, they are more likely to employ Indigenous people, with the value flowing back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
During the year, we paid almost $37 million to Indigenous suppliers.
This year we announced our first Building Outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses (BOAB) fund agreement, with $100,000 awarded to Cultural Choice, an Aboriginal owned supplier of stationery and office products to Officeworks. The funding assists with product development for Cultural Choice’s private label Indigenous range and the purchase of plant and equipment for its first dedicated warehouse in Tuggerah, NSW. See case study here.
We look forward to more successful BOAB fund agreements during the 2022 financial year.
4. COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
Through our significant community partnerships program, we focus our funding on three key areas: medical research and wellbeing, education and the arts. Across each of these areas, we endeavour to support organisations that are Indigenous-led, or that have significant Indigenous programs. We look to add value to our partner organisations, the community and our businesses.
Wesfarmers has supported the Clontarf Foundation since its inception in 2001 and we currently employ around 400 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men through Clontarf. We also supported the Girls Academy to increase opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women until its closure in January 2021.
In addition, this year we have continued to support Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Australia’s biggest Aboriginal-led theatre company. We have supported Yirra Yaakin since 2016.
5. CELEBRATING ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER CULTURE
Wesfarmers has been a leading supporter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture for more than four decades, commissioning and collecting the work of leading contemporary Indigenous artists for The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art and working with a range of premier arts and cultural organisations in Western Australia and nationally, including the National Gallery of Australia and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.
The year saw the national release of the Australian feature film The Furnace with funding from Wesfarmers enabling cultural consultation with the Yamatji Badimaya people of Western Australia and the inclusion of Badimaya language in the film. Written and directed by Western Australian filmmaker Roderick McKay and telling the story of the Afghan cameleers and their interactions with Aboriginal people at the time of the gold rush, the film premiered at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival ahead of its national release in Australia in December 2020.
The year also saw Wesfarmers support the building of the new Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip, with a donation of $5 million over 10 years. Opened to the public on 21 November 2020, the museum is the largest contemporary museum building project in the southern hemisphere in recent history and one million Western Australians and visitors to the state are expected to visit the museum each year. As a Founding Partner of the new Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip, Wesfarmers signed a 10-year agreement with the West Australian Museum Foundation to support the museum’s extensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural collections, exhibitions and public programs through the Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn Gallery, which means Our Heart, Country and Spirit in Noongar language.
Development commenced on the COLLABORATE2020 Wesfarmers gift commission, with senior artists of the Warmun Art Centre in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. This major artist commission to design and produce a limited edition of water vessels features the art of three senior Kimberley artists, Mabel Juli, Patrick Mung Mung and Rammey Ramsey, developed in collaboration with each artist and produced as a limited edition in anodized aluminium, etched, hand painted and finished by the premier Australian craft studio, JamFactory in Adelaide.
During COVID-19, with normal access to the Warmun community prohibited over an extended period, the Warmun Art Centre, like many remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres across Australia, suffered significant loss of income from tourism and art sales. In working with the centre to develop this initiative, Wesfarmers has been able to provide support to the community and its artists during a financially and socially difficult time for remote communities.
We are especially proud to have partnered with the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) since 2010 on the national mentoring initiative, the Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program, and to present the forthcoming international touring exhibition, Ever Present: First People's Art of Australia, showcasing more than 130 years of Aboriginal art from 1887 to the present. Drawn from The Wesfarmers Collection and the National Gallery of Australia, the exhibition is scheduled to open at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in December 2021 and begin its international tour at the National Gallery of Singapore in May 2022. The project is Indigenous led and developed, providing an opportunity for alumni of the Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program to work on the international stage.
During the year, Wesfarmers’ corporate office contributed more than $4 million in support of the activities of 17 leading arts organisations and acquired several major works of Indigenous art for the Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art.
GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 405-1, GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 406-1