Bold vision for change launched

Country not-for-profit organisation ac.care has launched its Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, outlining three years of bold action to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The document was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and launched in the Limestone Coast as part of a National Reconciliation Week event on Tuesday at the Mount Gambier Family Relationship Centre.

Local Aboriginal and broader community representatives, fellow service providers and staff of the homelessness, foster care and human services agency gathered for the celebration, which also featured unveiling of a mural by Boandik woman Bonnie-May Saunders.

The Stretch RAP maps out ac.care’s commitment to working towards genuine reconciliation, being guided by and providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and walking together to generate change.

ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said the Stretch RAP reinforced the need to understand truths of Australia’s past, ongoing impacts and broad action needed to repair damage.

“ac.care’s commitment to reconciliation is reflected not just in this document but through our actions every day,” he said.

“We have come a long way over the past few years and together have made progress in achieving our commitments through our previous Innovate RAP, but we decided we need to stretch ourselves to do more.”

ac.care is one of 86 organisations in Australia that have adopted a Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan.

However, it is the only non-national not-for-profit in South Australia to set RAP commitments at a Stretch level.

“This demonstrates how serious we are,” Mr Maddocks said.

He said key achievements of ac.care towards reconciliation to date included employment and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff as leading contributors to the agency’s mission of ensuring country people have safe homes, enough money to live on and strong, positive relationships.

ac.care Stretch RAP champion Jason Wallace said there had been a comprehensive process across the organisation to set goals, stretch the organisation and expand its vision to create the document.

He said the “reconciliation map” for ac.care provided measurable outcomes to ensure the organisation’s deep commitment to reconciliation is backed with meaningful and ambitious action.

“We want to be an advocate that stands up, speaks up and makes a difference,” he said.

Mr Wallace said ac.care did not only want to generate change and opportunities in the country South Australian communities in which it operates, but be part of Reconciliation Australia’s national advocacy for change and encouraged other organisations to adopt reconciliation plans.

“We hope our commitment contributes to the broader movement to create a fairer society, a fairer nation, where everyone is respected, has opportunities to thrive and the value of our First Nations culture, the oldest surviving culture in the world, is recognised, respected and enshrined at the heart of our nation’s foundations and identity,” he said.

“Together we can make a difference and create a society we can all take pride in where everyone belongs and has equal opportunities to participate freely and with equity in all areas of Australian life.”

Mount Gambier-based Boandik, Meintangk, Gunditjmara, Ngarrindjeri and Narrungga woman Ms Saunders spoke at the function about her artwork, My Home, which is now proudly displayed on the Mount Gambier Family Relationship Centre windows.

“My Home as it is represented in this piece is full of beautiful colours,” she said.

“In the centre we have a symbol which represents people sitting and talking together, which emphasises we have a great facility here in Berrin with the Mount Gambier Family Relationship Centre, which keeps families connected and links them with supports.

“I hope that people look at my piece and remember the importance of culture, families and most of all being connected to Boandik Country.”

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