COUNTRY not-for-profit organisation ac.care has launched its Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, outlining three years of bold action to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The document has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia as part of a national movement and was launched on May 25 with a community event at ac.care’s Berri centre ahead of National Reconciliation Week.
Local Aboriginal and broader community representatives, fellow service providers and staff of the homelessness, foster care and human services agency gathered for the celebration, which also featured unveiling of a mural by First People of the River Murray artist Daniel Giles.
The Stretch RAP maps out ac.care’s commitment to working towards genuine reconciliation, being guided by and providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and walking together to generate change.
ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said the Stretch RAP reinforced the need to understand truths of Australia’s past, ongoing impacts and broad action needed to repair damage.
“ac.care’s commitment to reconciliation is reflected not just in this document but through our actions every day,” he said.
“We have come a long way over the past few years and together have made progress in achieving our commitments through our previous Innovate RAP, but we decided we need to stretch ourselves to do more,” he said.
ac.care is one of 86 organisations in Australia that have adopted a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan.
However, it is the only non-national not-for-profit in South Australia to set RAP commitments at a Stretch level.
“This demonstrates how serious we are,” Mr Maddocks said.
He said key achievements of ac.care towards reconciliation to date included employment and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff as leading contributors to the agency’s mission of ensuring country people have safe homes, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships.
Riverland HIPPY coordinator, Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba woman and chairperson of ac.care’s reconciliation action group for the region Katisha Jackson said she was proud to lead delivery of the Stretch RAP after years of working with Aboriginal families as part of the community.
“Having a strong passion and commitment to working with our First Nations community, backed with experience, allows me to guide the agency’s focus on ensuring all ac.care people appreciate the importance of being culturally safe within the workplace and ensuring we are building respectful relationships within the community,” she said.
“I am personally proud to be a part of ac.care’s RAP leadership and ensure we are making the right steps in this organisation that truly embrace the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the role we can all play in reconciliation.”
ac.care Stretch RAP champion Jason Wallace said there had been a comprehensive process across the organisation to set goals, stretch the organisation and expand its vision to create the document.
He said the “reconciliation map” for ac.care provided measurable outcomes to ensure the organisation’s deep commitment to reconciliation is backed with meaningful and ambitious action.
“We want to be an advocate that stands up, speaks up and makes a difference,” he said.
Mr Wallace said ac.care did not only want to generate change and opportunities in the country South Australian communities in which it operates, but be part of Reconciliation Australia’s national advocacy for change and encouraged other organisations to adopt reconciliation plans.
“We hope our commitment contributes to the broader movement to create a fairer society, a fairer nation, where everyone is respected, has opportunities to thrive and the value of our First Nations culture, the oldest surviving culture in the world, is recognised, respected and enshrined at the heart of our nation’s foundations and identity,” he said.
“Together we can make a difference and create a society we can all take pride in where everyone belongs and has equal opportunities to participate freely and with equity in all areas of Australian life.”
Riverland-based Ngintait, Nganguruku and Yankunytjatjara artist Mr Giles spoke at the function about his artwork, which is now proudly displayed on the ac.care Berri office.
“The work depicts our connection to the land, which is where everything starts - we are made from it, learn from it and live from it,” he said.
“We must continue to build, strengthen and pass on our knowledge of caring and nurturing on to the next generation, ensuring the strength and resilience of First Nations People is passed on to our youth as the future is in their hands.”
ac.care’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan is available at accare.org.auac.care can be contacted on 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273).