This week is NAIDOC Week and, as we celebrate, Teach For Australia is reaching the halfway mark in development of our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
A 12 month process, with a November launch in sight, we checked in with the Chair of the RAP Steering Committee – Annelise Pearce – for an update.
Firstly, what is a RAP?
“A RAP is the formalisation of the commitment an organisation makes to addressing reconciliation, not just within the organisation, but for Australia.
“It sets a vision that an organisation believes in reconciliation and tries to identify the individual ways that it can be achieved within the organisation.”
Reconciliation Australia says, a RAP contributes to advancing the five dimensions of reconciliation by supporting organisations to develop respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Why is a RAP important for Teach For Australia?
“We believe that every child, regardless of background, deserves quality education. So, for us, that ‘regardless of background’ part, it’s part of what we do, it’s part of what we deliver, but we want to make sure that is embedded organisationally.
“We already have a number of things in place that are important for a RAP, but they’ve never been formalised. We’re also looking forward to stretching our muscles a little bit to see how we could do those things better – and more.”
Any organisation, workplace, school or early learning centre can develop a RAP. For workplaces, there are four types of RAPs: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch or Elevate.
What kind of RAP is Teach For Australia developing and what does this mean?
“In the first instance, we’re developing a Reflect RAP, which will identify and celebrate what we’re already doing for reconciliation. It’s also a chance to identify areas where we’re not culturally competent.
“The idea is that you progress from one type of RAP to the next and we’re already looking forward to diving into the next RAP, the Innovate RAP.”
According to Reconciliation Australia, a Reflect RAP allows an organisation to spend time scoping and developing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, deciding on your vision for reconciliation and exploring your sphere of influence, before committing to specific actions or initiatives.
Who and what is involved in developing the RAP at Teach For Australia?
“We have a team of 16 people who not only represent all the different functions of Teach For Australia, but also all the different regions we operate in.
“We’re trying to embrace all perspectives of the organisation and are looking for ways to build on what we’re already doing to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as well as how we can address inequities that we didn’t even realise were there.”
For Reconciliation Australia, each of the four types of RAP (Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate) set out the minimum elements required from an organisation to build strong relationships, respect and opportunities within an organisation and community.
What kind of practical actions are involved in Teach For Australia’s RAP?
“At this particular point, we’re focused on building the cultural competency of all staff. So, we heavily promoted events around National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, helping people have the opportunity to immerse themselves in cultural experiences.
“It’s also the International Year of Indigenous Languages, so we’re looking at ways that we can utilise that in Acknowledgement of Country across our different regional offices.
“We’re reviewing our policies, procedures and practices around staffing to ensure that we’re as accommodating as we should be. For example, if our leave policies are adequate to address the needs of Indigenous employees, accommodating cultural requirements to attend different ceremonies.
“Then, there is also setting out protocols for events and acknowledging how we already embed our cultural competency in the recruitment of Associates.”
As Reconciliation Australia says, organisations with RAPs are turning good intentions into positive actions, helping build higher trust, lower prejudice and increased pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
What’s next for Teach For Australia’s RAP?
“Pulling together the RAP in the way that Reconciliation Australia determined, getting it accredited in September and launching it at our National Initial Intensive where all our Associates and community come together in November.
“It will be celebration of all that we do and are doing in this space.”
Some 1000 organisations have formalised their commitment to reconciliation through the development of a RAP.
To find out more about Reconciliation Action Plans, visit: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/reconciliation-action-plans/
To get involved in the development of Teach For Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org