GPT Group today launched its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which contains a raft of commitments and targets aimed at helping close the disadvantage gap faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The launch in GPT’s Sydney headquarters was opened by a Welcome to Country from Gadigal Elder Uncle Allen Madden.
GPT chief executive Bob Johnston said the RAP set out a list of targets on which the company would hold itself accountable.
“GPT recognises it has an important role to play in helping close the social and economic disadvantage gap faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Johnston said.
“The RAP contains commitments that will put GPT on the right path to building better relationships between the wider community and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community,” he said.
The RAP aligns with Reconciliation Australia’s three areas of focus: relationships, respect and opportunities.
Reconciliation Australia chief executive Justin Mohamed (pictured with Bob Johnston) told the event: “RAPs are a practical way to gain action to build strong relationships and enhance respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.”
With around 650 organisations now part of the RAP community, and a further 500 RAPs now in development, Mr Mohamed said there was strong evidence these plans were having a very strong effect on promoting positive change.
He said a survey found that RAP organisations were close to employing 30,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and had purchased $20 million of goods and services from Supply Nation certificated businesses in the past 12 months
He said these organisations over the year had contributed $55 million towards education scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and $42 million of pro-bono support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities.
At the event, GPT Wholesale Shopping Centre Fund manager and GPT RAP Working Group member, Michelle Tierney, shared her personal story of how she only found out about her Aboriginal heritage after her grandmother passed away.
“Today, I do proudly stand here and say I am Aboriginal. I don’t currently identify as Aboriginal, I don’t tick the box,” said Ms Tierney, who admitted she was hesitant in going public about her heritage.
“I hope that one day my son and I will be proud to say that we’re part of the world’s oldest living culture. That’s why I joined the RAP Working Group. That’s why reconciliation is important. It’s important so that our children, our grandchildren can be proud of our heritage and our culture,’’ he said.
“Reconciliation to me is not just a corporate tick-the-box exercise. It is something very important about sharing our culture, our heritage and understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and improving relationships,” she said.
Marcia Ella-Duncan, national solutions manager for the recruitment firm Lisant Group, told the event that Ms Tierney’s story was “unbelievably common” in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“I am an optimist and I firmly believe that we hold the solutions and that we can determine our own futures,’’ she said.
“As our futures are indelibly linked, our efforts and solutions must also be strongly connected. This will only happen when we have mutual respect and understanding and when Aboriginal Australia enjoys the prosperity of the nation on equal terms. This is what the reconciliation movement is for me,’’ said Ms Ella-Duncan, who was the first Aboriginal woman to play netball for Australia.
To read more about GPT’s vision for reconciliation visit the RAP section of our website.