Reconciliation Action Plan

Turning good intentions into actions

More than a year has passed since the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generation, but reconciliation still remains central to the achievement of lasting results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the nation as a whole.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recognises the importance of reconciliation and in June, it put into place a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to strengthen the Institute’s commitment to this important goal.

The RAP sets out specific, achievable actions for enhancing relationships, respect and opportunities between the AIHW and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It was developed over several months by the Social and Indigenous Group, the People Unit, some of the AIHW’s Indigenous staff members and Reconciliation Australia.

The objectives of the Plan are to:

  1. Enhance awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at the AIHW.
  2. Shape policy and community debate by highlighting issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through statistics and relevant advice.
  3. Develop and build capacity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations in data and statistical areas.

L–R Matilda House, Ngambri elder; Penny Allbon, AIHW Director; Louise Brown (Matilda's sister); Cherie Williams (Matilda's niece); the Hon. Peter Collins, Chair of the AIHW Board; Paul O'Callaghan, CEO of Reconciliation Australia.

The Plan was launched by the Chair of the AIHW Board, the Hon. Peter Collins, at a special bush tucker morning tea. Ngambri elder Matilda House performed a Welcome to Country and with her daughter Michelle and sister Louise Brown, blessed the land and building at the AIHW site in Bruce. Paul House entertained guests with some wonderful didgeridoo music, accompanied by songman Billy Tompkins.

Special guests at the morning tea included the Head of the National Advisory Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information and Data, Lisa Pulver-Jackson, Reconciliation Australia’s CEO Paul O’Callaghan and RAP Advisor Kerrie Nelson, and several AIHW Board members.

The AIHW’s Director, Dr Penny Allbon described the event as a very special occasion and said the RAP would underpin the strength of the Institute’s collaborative relationships in producing sound information in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘Our goal is to develop and maintain respectful and valuable partnerships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations we work with,’ Dr Allbon said.

‘In addition to raising awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures at AIHW we are actively marketing the AIHW as a good place to work and exploring options to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at the Institute.’

CEO of Reconciliation Australia Paul O’Callaghan said the AIHW has a very important role to play in reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly by improving data that will help measure progress with meeting ‘Closing the Gap’ targets.

The RAP sets out several key focus areas, including relationships, respect and opportunities. For each of these focus areas the plan specifies a number of actions with timelines and measureable targets.

Performance indicators and unit responsibilities have been identified for all actions and will be used to monitor the achievements of the plan.

The RAP will be championed within the Institute by the Director of the AIHW and the Executive Committee. A report on progress of the plan will be prepared each year, with the first report to be released on 30 June 2010.

The Plan also strengthens the commitment that all AIHW data collection and analysis is undertaken using the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health data principles.

The AIHW is committed to informing public discussion about issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and it provides essential information for the development of public policy in areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and welfare.

Reflecting this vital role, the RAP states that the AIHW will strive to improve the quality, analysis and presentation of its data on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.