Last weekend we launched the Icon Group Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to more than 650 team members at our Icon Island Christmas Conference and celebration.
Shortly before the RAP was officially launched by Darryl Monaghan from Reconciliation Australia, the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Group delivered a fantastic welcome to country and Reconciliation Australia, the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Group delivered a fantastic welcome to country and dance performance which was subsequently named as an event highlight by a number of our attendees. Given that the evening that followed included fireworks and a pumping dance party of our own that’s no small endorsement!
We were also thrilled to have artist Amanda Hayman join us for the launch who, in conjunction with weaver Elisa Jane Carmichael, created the beautiful artwork used on the cover and throughout the document.
We’ve worked really hard on the development of our RAP, and it was wonderful to hear Darryl’s very positive comments on the work we’ve done to date and the progress we’ve made. It’s a Reflect RAP, which as per Reconciliation Australia’s definition is ‘for organisations just starting out on their reconciliation journey and who need to build the foundations for relationships, respect and opportunities. A Reflect RAP will give your organisation the time and opportunity to raise awareness and support for your RAP inside your organisation. It will also assist you to develop a solid RAP governance model and build the business case for future commitments to cultural learning, and practising cultural protocols considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment.’
We’ve been very fortunate to have Dr Anita Heiss, Manager of the Epic Good Foundation (and our very good friend) take on the role of RAP Convenor, and her support, guidance and leadership have been invaluable as we’ve worked through the development process.
Making a public commitment to improving the health and well being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is really important to us at Icon Group, and we believe that raising awareness and increasing knowledge within our organisation will not only help us to work towards closing the gap in health outcomes through the services we provide, but also by creating employment opportunities for Indigenous health workers.
We’ve already undertaken a number of activities during 2016 to work towards these goals – in National Reconciliation Week every Icon Group site received an Aboriginal Wall Map, and were asked to send us a picture with their map identifying the Traditional Owners of their region.
In NAIDOC Week we ran an online quiz designed to increase general knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facts, and also asked participants to provide a word that defined ‘Reconciliation’ to them. The words were put into a word cloud, which helped our vision for the RAP and was also provided to Amanda to inspire the artwork.
I’d like to share the artist statement that Amanda gave us about her artwork, as to me it summed up so beautifully the spirit with which we approached the development of our RAP.
“I use weaving as a metaphor for Indigenous culture. Colonisation affected the continuation of cultural practices; fibres were cut and damaged, weavings unravelled and significant techniques and knowledge was lost, yet Indigenous culture is perpetual and we have the ability to all work together to reunite, repair and strengthen threads that hold us together. During the act of weaving, I acknowledge the people who have come before us and where the skills originated. It’s a time of reflection and recognition of Australia’s history. As I weave, I also become very aware of the present; the materiality of the yarn and the energy of the company I’m with. It’s a time for unity, peace and forgiveness. As the circular form grows, it represents equality, harmony, fairness and respect. Weaving together, we can create strong relationships for a better future.” Amanda Hayman.
If you’d like to view our RAP in full, it can be found online here, and of course we’ll keep you updated on our progress as we implement the actions it contains.