Settlement Services International (BEMAC’s key national partner) launched the its ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) recently, to celebrate SSI’s reconciliation journey with key members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, staff and supporters at the Ashfield Town Hall.

The SSI Group’s ‘Innovate’ RAP, recently endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, is the organisation’s commitment to creating opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, under three key pillars: Relationships, Respect and Opportunities.

A traditional Smoking Ceremony welcomed guests to the event where ABC International Affairs Analyst and Wiradjuri and Kamilaori man Stan Grant provided the keynote address, speaking about reconciliation and its meaning to Aboriginal people.

SSI RAP Ambassador, Anaiwan Elder, Owner of Lovelock Consultancy, Managing Director of the Armidale and Regional Aboriginal Cultural Centre & Keeping Place, Rose Lovelock, said by addressing the vision of Australian Society and key issues, SSI’s RAP provides a strong road map for the future.

“As an Anaiwan Elder I am pleased to endorse the SSI Reconciliation Action Plan.

“The first meeting of the ‘Council for Reconciliation’ held in February 1992 identified a vision of Australian Society for 2001 as ‘A united Australia which respects the land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.”

“The eight key issues of understanding of the importance of land and sea; better relationships with the wider community; recognition of the value of culture and heritage; shared ownership of our history; awareness of causes of disadvantage in health, housing, employment and education; addressing high custody levels; First Nations People in control of their destiny; formalising the process of reconciliation.

“As the SSI RAP Ambassador, I believe the SSI RAP addresses the above vision and key issues thus providing a strong road map for the future,” said Ms Lovelock.

Stan Grant reflected on reconciliation being an important journey involving recognition.

“Reconciliation is a journey not a destination. This is an important step for Settlement Services International and recognises the importance of indigenous values and culture and importantly it recognises our shared history and that reconciliation happens when we find ourselves in each other,” said Mr Grant.

SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, shared the organisation’s journey to date, as well as the ongoing commitment to embed a safe environment that increases and promotes the employment, participation, voice, dialogue, and discussion with people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities.

“The SSI Group entered the development of its first Reconciliation Action Plan expecting it to be an educational process. What we didn’t expect was just how humbling it has been. We are only at the start of our journey towards realising Makarrata, but already we have gained so much new insight into the immense knowledge and wisdom that resides in the world’s oldest living culture.

“This is more than just a proposal – it is our commitment to strengthening our relationship with Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples,” said Ms Roumeliotis.

SSI Indigenous Inclusion & Reconciliation Lead, Nicole Beaver, has led the development of policies that ensures consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and stakeholders before decisions are made.

“We are continuously advocating for consultation and believe decisions regarding organisational change, business or government policy need suitable consultation.

“We need to allow First Nations Peoples the opportunity to discuss and make decisions on issues that affect them. This sentiment is echoed throughout our RAP, and it was a proud day for us all to officially launch this plan,” said Ms Beaver.

The event also featured Aunty Munya Andrews, Director, Aboriginal Elder, Educator & Facilitator at Evolve Communities; and Aboriginal educator and artist, Walangari Karntawarra led a dance performance.

Launch events will be held at other SSI offices in the coming months.

This event was held on the Land of the Wangal People and we acknowledge their Traditional Custodians and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging. We thank Brendan Kerin from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council for his beautiful Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.

SSI thanks Inner West Council for supporting this event through the use of the Ashfield Town Hall.

To access and download the full Reconciliation Action Plan, please visit https://www.ssi.org.au/images/SSI_Reconciliation_Action_Plan-compressed.pdf

Media enquiries:

For all media enquiries, including interviews, further information or photos, please contact the following:

Marlise Beasley, General Manager/Account Director, ZADRO, 0423 624 013, marlise@zadroagency.com.au
Oakley Grioli, Senior Account Executive, ZADRO, 0434 295 302, oakley@zadroagency.com.au
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