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“Our vision for reconciliation is a society that values the cultures and heritage of our First Nations Peoples, respects the land and waters, and provides justice and equity to all Australians.” – Communicare Reconciliation Action Plan

National Close the Gap Day today (21 March) is an opportunity for Australians to send all levels of government a clear message that our nation values equality as a fundamental right.

Communicare is deeply committed to working with First Nations Peoples to Close the Gap with the wider Australian community and engage in opportunities to create equality for all.

Since the launch of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2018, followed by our Innovate RAP in 2021, we’ve been focussed on growing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations.

In 2023 we appointed Alira Kelly, formerly the Senior Executive Officer at the Langford Aboriginal Association, to the newly created role of Director Aboriginal Strategy and Capacity Building.

Her role is supported by our RAP Champions group, comprised of staff members from right across the organisation. This group takes the lead in embedding cultural awareness and knowledge within our teams, along with recognising days of significance.

In the coming months we will finalise an Elders advisory group to help guide us on our reconciliation journey and ensure our work in the community is culturally appropriate and tailored to deliver the best outcomes for First Nations clients.

Recently, we partnered with Dooga Waalitj Healing for the Kuop Maaman Moorditj Program.  A highlight of the program was a Cultural Day Trip tailored for First Nations young men and their caregivers. This opportunity provided them with a meaningful opportunity to deepen their bond with their land, language, culture, and significant sites, fostering a strong sense of identity and connection to their Aboriginal culture.

Last month, we unveiled a new artwork we commissioned called Baalap Kep Waankiny (two people talking by the water) by artist Bennell Collard, aged 13, from Dooga Waalitj Healing.

Baalap Kep Waankiny is the story of two people sitting by the side of a Bilya (River) talking about seeking support to make their Wirrin ‘spirit’ stronger and creating connections to support healing.

This new artwork will be embedded across our organisation, reflecting our unique identity and commitment to reconciliation. We will be integrating the new artwork into our branding, replacing our initial piece that has been used over the past few years.

Our collaborative efforts through our Director Aboriginal Strategy and Capacity Building and Acacia Prison’s Indigenous Cultural Advisor, Brooke Dillon, support our work with Serco to establish a culturally safe environment within the correctional facility. Our dedication is focused on fostering a community that respects and embraces First Nations culture, particularly for incarcerated Aboriginal men.

By facilitating cultural connections and understanding, we aim to provide genuine opportunities for rehabilitation that prioritise cultural sensitivity and respect. This partnership reaffirms our ongoing commitment to promoting holistic and genuine approaches to rehabilitation within the criminal justice system, ensuring our continued investment in addressing the persistent issues and concerns surrounding incarceration rates for Aboriginal men.

Building kaartdijin (knowledge) of First Nations culture is a priority at Communicare. In 2023, our leadership team, Board Chairperson Jim McGinty and our RAP Champions attended a Cultural Immersion Day on Nyungar Boodja, the lands of the Whadjuk Nyungar People.

This incredible day was hosted by traditional custodians of Nyungar Boodja, Rohan Collard from Dooga Waalitj Healing, and his brother Dylan Collard from Kalyakoorl, following a beautiful, heartfelt Welcome to Country by Uncle Leonard Collard.

It was an incredible day full of history, culture, language and an invitation to listen, learn, reflect and better understand the rich 45,000-plus year history of First Nations Australians. The immersion took place just prior to the vote on the Voice to Parliament Referendum, an initiative strongly supported by Communicare.

Since being launched in 2007, National Close the Gap Day has brought people together from all over the country to advocate for and take meaningful action to create better and more equitable health outcomes for First Nations Peoples.

The 2024 Close the Gap Report highlights the many successful outcomes achieved, yet suggests Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity and justice still have a long way to go.

The 15th annual report titled Voyage to Voice, Treaty, Truth and Beyond, highlights the work of leaders and organisations in Indigenous communities and their journeys and successes in closing the gap.

As an organisation, we embrace the call for fairness, inclusivity and equity for all Australians. This includes our ongoing commitment to meeting the aspirations of our Innovate RAP and supporting First Nations communities on whose lands and waterways we live and work.

We will also be supporting National Reconciliation Week (NRW), 27 May – 3 June, with the theme: Now More Than Ever. In addition, we will also be engaged with NAIDOC Week, which runs from 7-14 July.

Today, and every day, we acknowledge and pay respect to the Aboriginal communities on whose lands and waterways we live and work, including Elders past and present, our Aboriginal colleagues, friends, and clients.

We will hear their voices, we will listen and we will act.


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