Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share a deep connection with the lands and waters of Australia that spans back over 60,000 years. As a relatively new profession and association we have a responsibility, a duty and a commitment to reconciliation and to growing greater understanding.
Our journey to understanding strives to be one of continuous learning and deeper connectedness to culture and country. Developing deep mutual respect and relationships, our board, staff and members can join and contribute to a shared and reconciled journey towards a just and equitable future.
To ensure our association is a culturally safe and welcoming organisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to create space for conversation and collaboration, for learning and sharing. The first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan for Occupational Therapy Australia is the culmination of a body of work from multiple groups and individuals invested in producing a meaningful roadmap for OTA’s reconciliation actions.
We acknowledge and value all parties for lending their time, their cultural and/or clinical knowledge to this journey, including:
- RAP Development Group—represented by First Nations occupational therapists, members, non-members, board and Indigenous Allied Health Australia and NATSIOTN representation.
- Staff, Board members and RAP Development Group members through a planning workshop day at Koori Heritage Trust facilitated by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultant.
- Internal RAP Working Group—representation from across OTA’s teams to continue our learning, and to explore how to operationalise the activities of the Reflect RAP.
- OTA staff who have committed and completed a range of cultural responsiveness training courses
- External review of the Reflect RAP draft by RAP consultant to assist with Reconciliation Australia compliance prior to submission for endorsement.
A number of initiatives and ideas for implementation have been discussed from these groups. Some of these initiatives have been implemented, some are contained in this Reflect RAP and some will be featured in future plans.
Why a Reflect RAP?
As guided by Reconciliation Australia, there are four types of RAPs that organisations can develop: Reflect, Innovate, Stretch and Elevate. Each RAP is designed to suit an organisation at different stages of their reconciliation journey.
The key expectations of developing a Reflect RAP are to look inwards at the association, assess the readiness for reconciliation, establish effective governance structures, and determine the organisation’s vision for reconciliation. A key element during the Reflect RAP is to build understanding of who, how, why, and when to seek guidance and consultation, and to improve relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
A Reflect RAP is a 12-month plan of actions and deliverables across four key areas (Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Governance). These areas are set by Reconciliation Australia and provide the framework for the RAP. It is expected, and a condition of endorsement, that organisations follow the Framework as provided by Reconciliation Australia and these can be read here: RAP Framework.
The development and implementation of Reconciliation Action Plans are not static. In many cases, the implementation of activities can and will happen alongside the formalising of these documents and endorsement.
OTA is continuing to learn, engage and grow as we move along our journey to understanding whilst formalising our intent through the development and submission of the Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. We continue to move forward.