Taking Steps To Proactively Support Reconciliation

Sarah’s commitment to take strategic and meaningful action to support reconciliation began in 2019 with the launch of our RAP Journey.  Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP) are specifically designed for workplaces to participate in a learning journey and collaborative partnership with Reconciliation Australia. “Based around the core pillars of relationships, respect and opportunities, RAPs provide tangible and substantive benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increasing economic equity and supporting First Nations self-determination” more information is available at Reconciliation Australia.

Belinda Wood, Sarah’s RAP Working Group Facilitator explains how this process has solidified Sarah’s genuine commitment to increasing our indigenous engagement. “As we navigate our RAP journey, we have built our awareness and knowledge through cultural awareness training, attending NAIDOC week events and historical artifacts tours at the museum with Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien. The more information we discover, the more we have enhanced the strategic direction of our RAP.

“We have created a consciousness within the organisation to deliberately and proactively consider first nations contribution…” – Terry Tsapaliaris, General Manager of Sarah Constructions

To drive meaningful industry impact, Sarah have proactively sought to engage and collaborate with indigenous businesses, in the delivery of our services.  As many of these businesses are smaller or lack experience with large construction projects, we established a mentor committee to guide these businesses into our processes and help support their success. Our estimation team also collaborates closely with these businesses, to break down packages to ensure best-fit and insurance of delivery with successful outcomes. We have also leveraged our relationship with NAB to provide free consultation for Indigenous businesses to ensure they have their business financial risk considered and covered,” said Belinda.

With our head office located on Kaurna lands, Sarah recently offered Kaurna language training to staff. The training was facilitated by Jack Kanya Buckskin from Kuma Kaaru, 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. Through sharing his personal experience and family stories, he provided insight to Sarah staff of his connection to country and discussed why he believes language is important in sustaining Indigenous culture. Jack explained that because language is key to us all, the more people who are using and incorporating a range of simple Kaurna phrases, the more life and relevancy the language gains. For example, using the phrase Niina marni? And responding with Marni’ai at the beginning of a meeting or when speaking to our family or friends, is a way that we can demonstrate our respect for the local Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands on which we work.

For our General Manager, Terry Tsapaliaris, his RAP journey started with an understanding of the business drivers to participate in the program but he quickly found personal growth and value. “Along the way I developed a greater understanding and respect for a living culture that is over 60 thousand years old. Listening to the stories, participating in the cultural awareness workshops and guided tours, I have gained a greater understanding of customs, the connection to land and Aboriginal family structure. I believe it is a culture that has possible answers to problems being faced by modern society, especially the balance between human existence and the environment in which we live” said Terry.

It’s the tangible outcomes and steps towards meaningful change that most excite Terry.  “We have created a consciousness within the organisation to deliberately and proactively consider first nations contribution. This involved identifying and tracking first nation owned businesses within our industry network to facilitate project engagement and collaboration.  We also identified opportunities to offer assistance with training such as through the Clontarf program during the Whyalla Secondary College project and the Cert II in Construction training we supported at Murray Bridge High School.

Sarah is committed to the on-going exploration and investigation to authentically align our values and business operations with our RAP. “The goals we set at the outset of this journey are still very true today, it’s about finding the right fit to implement them across the business so that our people can connect with them and take ownership of the outcomes. We’re very proud of our advancement all while we continue being passionate about building on this to contribute to a more reconciled nation” said Belinda.

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