Key theme #1: Advancing Reconciliation Action for First Nations People
With the date for Voice referendum due to be revealed imminently, matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is in the front of mind of many Australians.
Irrespective of individual views on the referendum, the collective aim is to make practical progress in Indigenous health, education, employment and housing, facilitating a better life for all.
In the workplace context, in the spirit of diversity and inclusion, many organisations are taking intentional steps to do their part in reconciliation action by enhancing workplace experience for the First Nations People.
Intentional Day-to-Day Actions
Beyond the customary practice of Acknowledgement of Country at formal events, many Australian Great Place to Work Certified™ companies have now made Acknowledgment of Country an embedded standard practice at gatherings, seminar, presentations and formal meetings. This is further enhanced by Acknowledgement of Country plaques and signage in local Indigenous language at meeting rooms and common spaces.
The companies have strengthened cross culture awareness amongst the employees with enhanced Australian Cultural Competence workshops, and specialised training for talent acquisition teams and hiring managers with the view of helping to understand and embrace Australian Indigenous culture. Multi-National Companies (MNCs) have gone the extra mile by extending culture awareness beyond their Australian workforce. They share cultural protocols and acknowledgement with their international colleagues, emphasizing their commitment to reconciliation.
Participating meaningfully in events like NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week has become a priority, with employers creating space for First Nations employees to share their challenges and lived experiences with the fellow colleagues and being active contributors in organisation’s decisions.
Higher level adjustments have also been made to create a true sense of belonging for Indigenous employees. Companies have created strategic partnerships with Aboriginal communities and agencies to help inspire and attract First Nations talent. Initiatives like Indigenous apprenticeships, traineeships and internships are providing valuable opportunities for companies to meaningfully engage with Indigenous Australians youth to enter the workforce.
Many employers are also rethinking their approach to Australia Day, offering alternative day off to
employees who choose to work on this public holiday, allowing individuals to observe this day in their preferred way. Additionally, Sorry Business is included in compassionate leave policies, as well as revised definitions of ‘family’ in employee benefits to embrace the Kinship System, fostering inclusivity and support for Indigenous employees.
While the parliamentary-level outcomes with potential nationwide implications are pending, it is indeed encouraging to see corporates contributing to the advancement of Australian First Nations people. These commendable actions provide a source of inspiration to others that progress can be made through incremental practical steps.
Want to see how your employees are experiencing your workplace culture and how your company compares with the Best Workplaces in Australia for 2023? Contact us for a demo on our proprietary Emprising™ survey platform to find out.
Valentina Lwin Bailey
Valentina brings 25 years of experience in organisational development, people and culture, and teaching and training experience from across higher education, government and private sectors in Australia and Myanmar (Burma). In the past 15+ years, she has been focused on employee engagement, workplace culture, leadership development and strategic planning. Her recent HR leadership roles included heading up functional HR teams in large and complex organisations, including crisis management during the pandemic and political unrest. She exercises her passion for people development by teaching, mentoring and coaching young HR professionals in the areas of HR, management and career planning. Valentina is a strong advocate for full-person wellness, and achieves balance through yoga, outdoor activities, cooking and enjoys spending time with family and friends.