Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester has released a new reconciliation action plan to build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and increase the cultural capability of Defence’s workforce.
Launched at the Australian War Memorial, the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan aims to enhance the department’s cultural awareness and improve the retention and career development opportunities for Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel, who make up 2.7% of the Defence Force, and 2.4% of the Australian Public Service.
Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty and Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell said the plan will help create a more inclusive and agile workforce which will strengthen Defence.
“Effective and appropriate engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities is an important and integral way to enhance the capability of Defence and increase the diversity of our workforce,” they said in a joint message.
“All Defence personnel are accountable for integrating this plan into daily business operations to ensure Defence is inclusive, culturally safe and reflects the community we represent.”
The plan has four key actions:
- Building stronger relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities — promote positive race relations through anti-discrimination strategies, support the Defence Indigenous Network, explore opportunities to engage communities, establish business foundations to support the plan.
- Cultivating a deeper understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and contemporary matters across Defence — engage in national days and weeks of significance, increase understanding and recognition through cultural learning, demonstrate respect by observing cultural protocols.
- Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation through employment and procurement opportunities — increase Indigenous recruitment retention and professional development, foster Indigenous programs and initiatives, support Indigenous personnel through Defence policy, explore partnerships to engage youth and employment pathways, promote the Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Strategy in Defence, contribute to Commonwealth Indigenous Affairs.
- Governance, monitoring and reporting — publicly communicate Defence’s commitment to Reconciliation, report the plan quarterly within the department to ensure Defence is on track, maintain accountability through annual external reporting from the Defence People Group.
Chester said the plan outlines Defence’s commitment to reconciliation and aligns with the whole of government Closing the Gap strategy.
“Having reached our previous targets, Defence has now committed to an Indigenous representation target of 3% by 2022 for the Australian Public Service workforce, and 5% by 2025 for the Australian Defence Force in the D-RAP 2019-2022,” he said.
Defence launched its first D-RAP in 2007, which focused on cultural awareness, recruitment and retention, and land and environmental management. The latest installment is the fourth plan and was developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, serving members, Defence Groups and Services and Reconciliation Australia.