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Paving the way for the future and reconciling our past

“Meeting our commitments to working with First Nations people to reconcile past relations in this country is key to our moving forward together.”

- Mechelle Turvey, proud Noongar/Yamatji woman, Serco Pulse Award-winning Young Adult Support Worker at Acacia Prison and member of the Serco RAP Working Group

In Australia, the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) programme, governed by Reconciliation Australia, provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement. ‘Reconciliation’ focuses on developing mutually beneficial relationships between First Nations peoples* and non-Indigenous Australians, and is defined in terms of race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.

RAPs are bespoke, non-compulsory public plans, endorsed and accredited by Reconciliation Australia, through which organisations can choose to commit formally to reconciliation.

Serco is currently delivering its second RAP, having launched the first in 2017. With a core theme of ‘Innovate’, Serco AsPac’s RAP focus on strengthening relationships with First Nations peoples, engaging staff and stakeholders in reconciliation, and innovative strategies to empower First Nations peoples.

The priorities and principles of the RAP dovetail neatly into Serco’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy:

“We strive to create inclusive workplaces strengthened by diversity and a sense of belonging for all,” says Kate Blizard, D&I Manager for Serco Asia Pacific. “We focus on ‘Attraction’, ‘Opportunity’, ‘Equality’ and ‘Belonging’, enabled by transparent governance and measurable progress, executive sponsorship and employee voice, and connections to communities beyond Serco.”

Delivery is overseen by the RAP Working Group, with representatives from all Business Units and sub-committees formed to deliver specific objectives.

“Our aim is to promote equality for First Nations people and instil a shared pride in First Nations cultures,” says Peter Neale, Managing Director of Serco Citizen Services and RAP Executive Sponsor.

“As a proud employer of First Nations people and provider of public services to all Australian citizens, and with specific responsibilities for the care of First Nations people in certain Contracts, Serco has determinedly embraced the RAP program. For us it is a means to drive reconciliation through practical action; an enabler of more effective, relevant employment and service delivery for First Nations people and communities; and an opportunity to communicate our commitment to all stakeholders.”

RAP achievements to date include:

  • Building strong relationships with Supply Nation and the National Indigenous Australians Agency and supporting them in leading supplier diversity and governance. In turn, this has helped us to more effectively engage First Nations businesses in our supply chain.

  • A continually evolving and expanding portfolio of programmes facilitating positive outcomes for First Nations people in Serco-operated custodial facilities, including the Adelaide Remand Centre, Clarence Correctional Centre (CLA) and Acacia Prison.

  • Our celebration of key events in the reconciliation and First Nations calendars, including National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week, enabling us to listen to First Nations voices and promoting cultural awareness, engagement and action among our colleagues.

  • Increasing the number of First Nations colleagues in Serco such as through our First Nations Talent Panel of 14 specialist agencies helping us reach and recruit experienced First Nations talent, and other initiatives like our Melbourne Parks and Gardens ‘Power to Work’ programme, providing employment opportunities to First Nations ex-offenders.

  • Our sponsorship of the ‘Indigenous Psychology Scholarship Program’, delivered by the Westerman Jilya Institute for Indigenous Mental Health, supporting First Nations students to study psychology to address the specific needs and circumstances of their communities.

“Achieving our RAP ambitions,” says Roz Hanson, General Manager, Australian Defence Forces Health Services Contract, “will mean increased representation of First Nations people in our workforce and supply chain; increased cultural safety for our First Nations colleagues and service users; reconciliation principles embedded in our culture, championed by our leaders and lived by our colleagues; and strong connections with First Nations communities and organisations, including workforce-, supply-chain- and service-enhancing partnerships.”

While the RAP applies only in Australia, it is representative of a much broader commitment by Serco to support cultural priorities wherever the Company operates:

“Each country has a unique past and opportunities for a better future,” says Kate Blizard. “Where appropriate, we seek to contribute in ways that are respectful, meaningful and constructive. In Serco Asia Pacific, that includes not only the RAP in Australia, but also the Nationals First agenda in Hong Kong and Maori representation in New Zealand.”

Serco’s third RAP commences in 2022. Building on the foundations laid since 2017, the aim is to move Serco forward, focusing on longer-term strategies, measurable targets and goals, and embedding reconciliation initiatives into business-as-usual.

 

* ‘First Nations people’ refers to those cultures recognised as the original inhabitants of Australia, also referred to as ‘Indigenous Australians’ or ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’.