Registered charity for young people yourtown threw open its doors in December for a Christmas gathering of RAP organisations, local reconciliation organisations and supporters.

The ticketed event helped raise valuable funds to support future Reconciliation Queensland Inc. (RQI) community engagement activities.

RAPs, or Reconciliation Action Plans as they are otherwise known, are strategic documents that support an organisation’s business plan.

They detail the practical actions the organisation will undertake as its contribution to reconciliation both internally and in the communities in which it operates.

Those attending the event enjoyed a sumptuous festive feast prepared by Aunty Leanne Plath and Michelle Todd, while they were treated to presentations from yourtown, Relationships Australia (Queensland), Brisbane South PHN, Noonga Reconciliation Group, Reading for Reconciliation and RQI.

Event organisers were Dean Brunker, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Initiatives Manager at yourtown, and RQI’s Aboriginal Co-Chair Aunty Heather Castledine.

yourtown RAP achievements

Dean gave an in-depth presentation on yourtown’s Reflect RAP, which the organisation decided to revisit when it expanded interstate, rather than progress to the Innovate level.

“In Queensland, we could have done the next two levels of RAP because of the amount of work we’ve actually done over the years engaging Indigenous community in Indigenous employment and training,” Dean said.

“However because we’ve got new sites in Tasmania, new sites in South Australia, we needed the whole organisation to come on the journey together, so I thought we’d better go back to the first RAP, which is a Reflect RAP,” he said.

Leading this work across the various offices is yourtown’s network of RAP champions, who stay in touch with each other via a monthly webinar every month.

“So every month, we get all our RAP champions nationally. We all come together. We do it through a webinar and can we can actually talk about what we are achieving and what [support] do they need in the other states,” Dean said.

Dean said yourtown’s RAP champions had been out engaging with the community and with staff in its own offices, all of which now display the Australian Aboriginal Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag, alongside the National Flag.

“I don’t believe they’re tokenistic. I like them because I think it shows respect,” Dean said, adding lightheartedly that as an ex-soldier he still likes to salute the flag every day before he starts work.

Staff now also have their own yourtown polo shirts sporting Australian Aboriginal art in their design.

“The staff have jumped on board and are wearing them everywhere and it’s great promotion for our RAP. We’re currently sourcing a provider for Indigenous ties and scarves as well,” Dean said.

Other initiatives implemented under yourtown’s RAP include the creation of Acknowledgements of Country, applicable to each office and the land on which it is located. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment and procurement strategies have also been developed.

“Our procurement team is quite large because we’ve got 18 sites nationally,” Dean said, adding that he often uses black business finder or other similar sources to find Indigenous businesses to support yourtown’s work.

Dean was also keen to talk about cultural awareness training provided through the First Australian Sensitivity Workshop to Kids Helpline counsellors .

“We have about 160 kids help line counsellors [and] I do all the cultural awareness training for those guys there. It’s about a three hour workshop,” Dean said.

“Ange, who’s one of our clinical practitioners, comes with me. She’s one of our RAP champions and she assists the Kids Helpline counsellors in getting their cultural capability because they do a lot of work in remote areas through Kids Helpline in schools, where they’ll connect with Indigenous community and kids in the schools themselves and do workshops, depending on what the need is for that community,” he said.

The organisation has also developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander guideline to terminology to support its strategy and research teams. This ensures the same terminology is used across both teams when they are working on government papers or tender documentation.

RQI would like to thank all the other speakers who presented at the Christmas gathering, including:

  • Brendan Bourke – Head of Client Services at yourtown
  • Debra Bennet – Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at Relationships Australia Queensland
  • Sylvia Penhaligon – Community and Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Brisbane South PHN
  • Helen Carrick – Teacher librarian and historian (retired) and founder of Reading for Reconciliation
  • Patricia Bartlett – Noonga Reconciliation Group, and
  • RQI’s non-Indigenous Co-Chair Peter Jackson.

Plans are already underway for a similar event in 2019. If you are interested in presenting on your organisation’s reconciliation journey, please email us at events@rqi.org.au.