A Reconciliation Action Plan is a tangible commitment to the goal of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA) has demonstrated its commitment to reconciliation through its third Reconciliation Action Plan.
Reconciliation Action Plans are an organisation’s contribution towards building positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. They formalise an organisation’s commitment by providing a framework for the future, identifying clear actions and realistic targets, and detailing steps and priorities to support Indigenous equality.
FaHCSIA’s vision for reconciliation is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, wherever they live, will have the same opportunities as other Australians to make informed choices about their lives, realise their full potential and take responsibility for managing their own affairs.
The FaHCSIA Reconciliation Action Plan 2009-2011 draws on key principles of consultation, engagement and partnership to:
- promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' input into policy development, program implementation and service delivery
- improve access for Indigenous people to mainstream programs and payments through appropriate consultation processes, support and tools, and
- develop guidelines for culturally appropriate and accessible policy and program design and implementation.
The plan contains a number of prioritised actions that focus on how FAHCSIA operates as an organisation to achieve its vision of reconciliation. It is intended that the elements of this Reconciliation Action Plan are incorporated into and become integral to individual business plans across the department.
The Reconciliation Action Plan identifies how FAHCSIA will continue to:
- develop a culturally appreciative workforce that values, acknowledges and respects diversity
- increase understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
- actively use Indigenous Australians’ life experiences, skills and knowledge as a source of advice on policy and delivery, and
- create iimproved opportunities for its Indigenous employees.
The plan was developed by a working group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff. At FAHCSIA, 9.1 percent of employees are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Resetting the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians begins with Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff working together, sharing their knowledge and expertise in a culture of mutually respectful relationships. Resetting the broader relationship with Indigenous peoples will be enhanced by the department’s increasingly stronger internal capacity.
As the lead Australian Government agency on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, FAHCSIA has made significant progress in creating an organisational culture that responds to the needs and aspirations of Indigenous Australians in their diverse circumstances. The involvement of Indigenous staff members has been integral to the success of the FaHCSIA Cultural Appreciation Program, which will be further strengthened as part of this Reconciliation Action Plan.
The development of Reconciliation Action Plans has been driven nationally by the non-government organisation Reconciliation Australia. For more information about Reconciliation Action Plans see the website of Reconciliation Australia.