Launching our Reconciliation Action Plan

Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS) is delighted to receive official endorsement from Reconciliation Australia on our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and launch this at our 2019 AGM.

RAP 2019-2020 ThumbnailWe have employed Aboriginal Family Support Workers for many years, working with local Aboriginal Families facing a range of issues who may require family support. We have also developed several successful programs specifically for Indigenous clients, such as Koori Kids Playgroup and Little Koori Thinkers Homework Support Group, both to enhance the cultural identity of local Aboriginal children, and support their confidence in their schooling, and the community.

We committed to develop the Reconciliation Action Plan to embed Reconciliation ideals within the culture of our organisation, while looking for ways to improve knowledge of all staff, and acknowedge the history and actively work to reconciliation within the workplace. With improved knowledge and understanding, SSFS are able to extend to the Aboriginal community and our clients improved service delivery, to ensure respect, safety and trauma informed practice.

The first RAP – called “Reflect” – supports the organisation’s strategic plan and drives contribution towards reconciliation.  Reconciliation Australia defines Reconciliation as being “based on historical acceptance, race relations, equality and equity; institutional integrity and unity.”

Julie West, SSFS Board Secretary, who lead the RAP project, commented “We want this document to come from our hearts, to reflect what it means to be an Aboriginal person in today’s society,  for the  history to be acknowledged and accepted;  and for  the oldest living  culture in the world to be recognised and appreciated. Working with Reconciliation Australia gave us a formal structure to embed Reconciliation values in our organisation. It’s an important part of who we are and what we offer the community.”

Danielle De Costa, our Aboriginal Services Co-ordinator commented “As an Aboriginal woman, and long time SSFS employee, I am incredibly proud that the organisation has taken these steps to formalise their commitment to the Aboriginal Community through the Reconciliation Action Plan process.”

The process to achieve the endorsement from Reconciliation Australia took several months, with the SSFS working group liaising with Reconciliation Australia who provided information, guidelines and goals to be addressed as part of the process and commitment.  When the Plan was finished, and we waited for final endorsement from Reconciliation Australia, we started putting it into practice straight away. Staff have already made Acknowledgement of Country a standard part of all meetings, undertaken Cultural awareness training, participated in several significant events such as National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week representing SSFS’ Aboriginal programs, and worked to enhance the cultural identity value of programs they offer.

“We’d also like to thank local Aboriginal Artist Dolly Brown, for allowing us to feature her beautiful artwork called “Family” on the cover of this Reconciliation Action Plan. SSFS purchased this painting 10 years ago at a local Aboriginal Art Exhibition, and it became the inspiration for our logo”.

With this renewed commitment to delivering culturally sensitive, respectful and trauma informed programs, SSFS are looking forward to better serving the Aboriginal community with relevant support services.

To review our Reconciliation Action Plan, click here.