Our reconciliation journey
Reconciliation has been a focus at Wesfarmers for over 20 years.
Our vision for reconciliation is an Australia that affords equal opportunities to all and we are committed to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel welcome in our businesses as team members, customers, suppliers and visitors.
As one of Australia’s largest employers with a presence in communities across Australia, serving millions of customers in our stores and businesses every week, we have gained an understanding of the challenges faced by Indigenous people, which has
helped us to play a more proactive role driving reconciliation in the wider community and promoting positive attitudes and behaviours.
Images courtesy of the Wesfarmers Group, Wesfarmers Arts partners Yirra Yaakin and National Gallery Australia and the Wesfarmers Collection.
From early actions, such as our first Indigenous community partnership agreement to support The Clontarf Foundation in 2000, Wesfarmers has supported efforts to contribute to a reconciled Australia.
In 2009 we became one of the first companies to launch a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), formalising and extending initiatives that had existed in our divisions, often for many years. We focused on creating opportunities, building relationships and respect, and holding ourselves accountable by tracking and reporting progress.
We continued to expand our community partnerships program and we listen to our team members, including through the Wesfarmers Indigenous Network which was established in 2010.
Wesfarmers’ support of the Telethon Kids Institute, which hosts the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases since 2014, has provided insight into serious health issues in Indigenous communities, and how a targeted approach can deliver meaningful outcomes that transform the lives of many disadvantaged children.
We recognise that supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses is key to their economic empowerment, with benefits to Indigenous families and communities, and we have progressively increased our spend with Indigenous suppliers over the years. We established the Building Outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Businesses Fund (BOAB) in 2020, to support these businesses to develop and scale.
In 2021 we were pleased to regain employment parity which is about three per cent, following the demerger of Coles Group in 2018. We are also committed to taking the next step, providing opportunities to expand careers and support leadership aspirations among our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members.
In 2022, we were proud to launch our eighth RAP, achieving the highest level of Elevate, joining a small but dedicated cohort of Australian companies and organisations, deeply committed to reconciliation. Our latest RAP is based around five core areas of focus: sustainable employment, career progression, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander procurement, community partnerships and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
For more than four decades we have collaborated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural associations, artists and communities by collecting, commissioning and documenting works.
In 2017, over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates to the First Nations National Constitutional Convention signed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, calling for the establishment of a First Nations Voice, enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
Since 2018, we have continued to listen and engage closely with our team members, suppliers, State and Federal Governments, community partners and other stakeholders, to better understand the opportunities that the Uluru Statement creates for our businesses and the communities where we operate. Perspectives regarding the First Nations Voice have been shared by our team members, with the Wesfarmers Indigenous Network, the Wesfarmers Leadership Team and the Wesfarmers Board.
We publicly supported the Uluru Statement since 2019 because it aligns with our commitment to reconciliation, and our confidence that it would deliver improvements, from the status quo.
Wesfarmers supported the recent referendum to recognise First Nations Peoples and enshrine a Voice in the Constitution, in support of all our Indigenous stakeholders. This support drew upon decades of experience and learning through our reconciliation journey, and recognises its potential to advance social, economic and cultural equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Australia voted and decided not to enshrine a Voice in the constitution and we respect the vote of the Australian people. As a group, we remain committed to reconciliation and will continue with our important work to achieve this in Australia.
Looking forward, Wesfarmers will continue to focus on plans to support reconciliation. We will know we have contributed to a more reconciled Australia when our workplaces fully reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and when more of our suppliers are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, supporting their local communities.
Wesfarmers' approach to reconciliation aligns with our corporate objective, to deliver a satisfactory return to shareholders, over the long term, recognising that stronger communities offer our businesses opportunities to continue to succeed.