A Step Towards Reconciliation: Sarah’s RAP Journey
With Belinda Wood, Marketing & Office Manager
National Reconciliation Week is noted as a time to reflect on achievements so far and to acknowledge the things which must still be done to achieve reconciliation. At Sarah Constructions, we are very proud of the journey we have undertaken to help support reconciliation.
In January of this year, Sarah officially launched our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which is a program that provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement. At the launch, our CEO, Adrian Esplin summarised the value of this program to Sarah.
“There are many important layers to true reconciliation, and I feel extremely privileged to be leading Sarah as we embed this into our company culture. The RAP framework provides the direction for Sarah’s reconciliation journey. 2019 is our year to ‘Reflect’. In subsequent years, we will continue to expand our knowledge and understanding, helping us to take meaningful steps towards reconciliation.” Adrian Esplin, CEO.
My RAP Journey At Sarah
When we started investigating the RAP process, I was appointed as a member of the Sarah RAP Committee and had a very limited understanding on what the process would involve – I thought it was more of a government educational program. Initially, I assumed the focus would be on how our business could work with and support Indigenous lead companies, which is an important aspect of the process, however it’s only one small part of what has turned out to be a much more meaningful, bigger picture journey.
My comprehension and appreciation for the value of the program quickly changed. The outcomes for this program are wide and far reaching, with impact that will ripple across all Australians. There is no way these outcomes can be achieved through a simple ‘application and checklist process’, it truly requires an educational journey. This journey will, and already is, impacting the foundation of how we do business at Sarah and, how each of us as employees, understand and respect our indigenous Australians. Working together to achieve these outcomes is no small feat, assisted by the RAP Framework which consists of 4 stages, allowing for that process to be experienced step by step.
Cultural Awareness Training
One of the steps in Sarah’s RAP journey, was to coordinate a series of cultural awareness training, facilitated by Jack Kanya Kudnuitya Buckskin. “Jack is a proud Kaurna and Narungga man who has dedicated his life to learning and passing on his knowledge and language of the Adelaide Plains to future generations of Kaurna people.” Jack delivers cultural awareness sessions as part of his work with the Tauondi Aboriginal College.
As a young student, I received very little education outside basic generic knowledge of our Aboriginal Australians. After the Sarah Cultural Training I learnt more than I imagined and was pleasantly surprised. The family tree responsibilities were incredibly interesting and highlighted the strength of an extended family unit- it gave new light to the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I find myself now hungry for more information and detail on Aboriginal Culture which can only benefit Sarah Constructions and our employees, given my role in the RAP Committee.
After the sessions, we asked participants to provide feedback on their experience and I was both proud and humbled to hear how impactful it was. It has absolutely reinforced not only how important but also how necessary it is for businesses to participate in the RAP process.
Feedback From Participants
“I really didn’t know much about aboriginal culture before the training. I found it to be a big ‘eye opener’ and has left me with a much deeper respect for Aboriginal people.”
Claire Dunstall, Tender Submission Administrator.
“It was fantastic to have a session that was purely about knowledge sharing and learning about the Aboriginal Culture without the focus on political or negative aspects of history. I felt this approach cut-through and made for a very open discussion where everyone enjoyed learning and was very engaged.
It was very refreshing, and I have gained more appreciation and understanding – which leads to more respect – from this one session than I have from anything I have attended/seen in the past. This format made you feel like you were invited in to appreciate the culture, rather than just being an outsider trying to understand it.
It is hard to fully respect a culture without having proper understanding, and this training is a big step towards forming that understanding.”
Kirby Thomson, Submissions & Marketing Coordinator
“I believe that this training raised my awareness and gave me an understanding of what it means to be an Aboriginal Australian by outlining their thoughts on; family, relationships, culture, training, their sense of humour, the challenges and common misconceptions that they as a culture face.”
Paul Schultz, Construction Graduate
I have become very passionate about Sarah’s RAP journey because for me, it’s rewarding to be able to guide Sarah Constructions to empower their employees and their families with the knowledge and respect of the Aboriginals Culture and lands.
A core attribute to our business, as a construction company, is that we have ‘hands on’ connectivity with the land. Understanding the cultural importance of these lands is imperative to allow us to be aware and respectful in this interaction.
We are proudly working through our REFLECT goals; to date we have achieved 75% or our target outcomes. This has been achieved by our dedicated RAP Committee whom have worked through as a team and with commitment.
What started as something we felt we needed to do out of corporate responsibility, has quickly transformed into something we want to do – we are truly embracing this journey as our understanding and appreciation for the Aboriginal culture grows. We are looking forward to moving through the phases of the ‘RAP Framework’ to advance reconciliation and are proud to be taking these steps forward, especially during National Reconciliation Week – Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage.