Reconciliation in action: our commitment and journey

This NAIDOC Week, we reflect on NBN Co’s commitment and journey to reconciliation.

I’d like to start this blog by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which we gather and do work across Australia. I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and future, especially those within our business.

While it may seem like a small gesture, this ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is just one way we are acting on our commitment to reconciliation here at NBN Co.

We encourage our employees to start every meeting this way.

Wherever they are across the country – whether in Perth paying their respects to the Noongar people, on the Gold Coast (the Yugambeh people), or Canberra (the Ngunnawal people), this simple – but meaningful – practice helps to remind us about the role we each play in contributing to the success of our First Peoples Initiative and Reconciliation Action Plan.


Action: Engage employees in understanding the significance of First Peoples cultural protocols, such as Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country, to ensure there is a shared meaning.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 17

The nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan

Our current and third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was launched in October 2018.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020 builds on the learnings, efforts and achievements from our first (launched in 2013) and second (2015) RAPs.

In this, NAIDOC Week, it seems a fitting time to share how we’re tracking against our vision for reconciliation: to see the rollout of the nbn™ broadband access network enhance two-way meaningful engagement, understanding and connection between First Peoples communities and broader Australian society and communities.


What is NAIDOC Week?


With NAIDOC originally standing for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’, NAIDOC Week takes place every July across Australia to “celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.

This year’s theme is: Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let's work together for a shared future.

As a business, we celebrate NAIDOC Week each year and, in 2018, this included our inaugural participation in AIME Hoodie Day.

What is AIME Hoodie Day?

Starting out as the ‘Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience’, today AIME has spread its mentoring wings globally to chase its vision: “to bring rebellious mentoring to every campus in the world and see every university student across the earth mentoring high school kids who are being left behind”.

While Hoodie Day 2019 is officially on 12 July, at NBN Co, we’ll be celebrating a little later in the month and look forward to sharing details with you, here on the blog.

You can buy the 2019 hoodie, designed by former AIME mentee Iteka Ukarla, and other AIME apparel in the online shop.


Action:
Provide opportunities for First Peoples employees to engage with their culture and communities by celebrating NAIDOC Week.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 15

Just some of the ways we’ve been working towards our vision since our third RAP’s launch include:

Working with WillPOWER

A community outreach program since 2013, WillPOWER was established by Power Community Limited, an independent arm of the Port Adelaide Football Club.
 

Focused on helping children to stay engaged in school and finish their secondary education, the program includes in-school activities, a mixture of school visits and remote video conferencing with Port Adelaide players, and football carnivals as a reward for attending school.

Eleven enthusiastic employees from NBN Co volunteered at the carnival last October. This followed our earlier successful collaboration to develop a cyber security education module for the WillPOWER program.

The module was delivered to 500 children across 27 remote schools in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Maralinga Lands of South Australia, and the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory.

Designed for First Peoples students in years 5 to 9, the module aimed to help students understand how they can use the internet safely and have positive experiences online. 

Based on the Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s ‘Be Deadly Online’ resources, it was also complemented by a Teacher’s Guide.

Image: Mark Piovesan Photography via Power Community Ltd.
I was personally thrilled to be involved in our work with WillPOWER, including at the footy carnival watching impressive displays like this from the Largs Bay and Yalata teams. (Yes, that’s me in the background umpiring!)

Action:
Develop opportunities with First Peoples communities and organisations to support positive outcomes.


nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 16
 

Returning First Peoples artefacts to Heathcote

Earlier this year, in March, we were able to return some culturally significant artefacts to their rightful place in Heathcote, Victoria.

Shane Monk, a Taungurung man, performed a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony as part of the reburial process for the artefacts, which were found during the planning and design phase of the nbn™ access network rollout.

Forty artefacts across four different sites were found during archaeological excavations, which form part of our Cultural Heritage Management Plan for this site.

A similar ceremony had already been held in Bright, also in Victoria.


Action: Recognise and respect First Peoples cultural heritage.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 15
 

Educating our workforce

Last month, we were proud to launch ‘Continuing the Journey’, the second module in our online Reconciliation Awareness Training for employees.

And it had rather large shoes to fill.

In June 2018, NBN Co won a platinum award for the first module in the Best Bespoke/Custom Model category at the LearnX Impact Awards.

Screenshot of the award-winning first module from our Reconciliation Awareness Training for employees.

Justin Forsell, Executive Sponsor of NBN Co’s First Peoples Pillar and our Chief Legal Counsel says, “I am really passionate about our Reconciliation Action Plan and educating employees about how we are engaging with our First People community.

“I’m proud to say that the RAP online learning module did this in a highly innovative way. It leaves no doubt about our commitment to recognition and respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture in the way we do business.”


Action: Engage employees in continuous cultural learning opportunities to increase our understanding and appreciation of First Peoples cultures, histories and achievements.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 13

Plus, some other highlights from across our three RAPs:

May 2019

Record attendance by NBN Co employees at the Supply Connect trade show, which showcased potential businesses to engage and increase our investment in First Peoples suppliers.


Action: Investigate opportunities to incorporate First Peoples supplier diversity within our organisation.
 


November 2018

Securing an Indigenous applicant for our most recent Field Technician Traineeship intake, who’s currently progressing through the 18-month program.


Action: Investigate and implement opportunities to improve and increase First Peoples employment outcomes within our workplace.
 
Node art in Moree.


December 2017

Visiting the APY Lands to listen and learn how online services can benefit the most remote and unconnected communities in the country.


Action: Develop opportunities with First Peoples communities and organisations to support positive outcomes.
 


July 2017

Elders perform ‘Welcome to Country’ at majority of our employee roadshows, held annually around the country for team members.


Action: Engage employees in understanding the significance of First Peoples cultural protocols, such as Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country, to ensure there is a shared meaning.
 
Some of our employees in the 2018 AIME Hoodie.


April 2017

Engaging with the Traditional Custodians of Broome, the Yawuru people, at the start of construction in the area, which included employing some of the local community.


Action: Develop opportunities with First Peoples communities and organisations to support positive outcomes.

 

While you can be sure that more has been happening towards our RAP objectives than we’ve mentioned above – both behind-the-scenes and out-and-about in the community – you can also be sure that there’s plenty more to come.

We look forward to sharing more with you again soon as we continue our journey to reconciliation.


Action: Report RAP achievements, challenges and learnings internally and externally.

nbn™ Reconciliation Action Plan – October 2018 to September 2020, page 20