Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
With more than 50 offices and laboratories across Australia, some in regional and remote areas, SGS Australia has a clear obligation and the significant potential to engage with local communities in a meaningful way. Our support of Reconciliation Australia’s (RA) Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) plays a key role in enabling us to meet this obligation.
RA is a non-governmental, not-for-profit Australian foundation whose core purpose is to encourage a nationwide focus on Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Its RAP program provides a robust framework for a focused and continued Reconciliation effort, in line with the needs of our Australian communities.
SGS Australia has taken its first step on the journey toward Reconciliation by developing and implementing a “Reflect” RAP, which is helping us to establish relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, better understand our sphere of influence and set our vision for Reconciliation.
Our initiatives focus on creating training and employment opportunities for Indigenous people, working with suppliers from Indigenous communities, raising awareness of cultural practices and values among our employees and establishing relationships with local Indigenous communities.
In 2019, our community initiatives included:
- Offering asbestos identification services free of charge to local Yarrabah homeowners
- For NAIDOC week in July, holding events for our employees to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. During these events, we engaged with Indigenous speakers and suppliers, and sampled authentic delicacies
- Management meetings that have included workshops providing further education into Australian history, painting classes, stories told by Aboriginal elders, and guided walking tours
- Volunteering. Employees at our Notting Hill office visited the elderly Aboriginal community at a local community center. After being made aware of the difficulty many of these elders have affording Christmas gifts for their loved ones, SGS donated 40 gift wrapped toys
- Subscribing to the Koori Mail, an Australian newspaper written and owned by Indigenous Australians. It is delivered to our main sites every two weeks and provides us with a library of community information
- Purchasing Aboriginal artwork from Sheila Humphries, a Noongar elder, acclaimed artist, storyteller and educator. Her work has been displayed internationally and is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest piece of Aboriginal artwork
Our RAP program is supported by all members of the SGS Australia leadership team. The second stage, “Innovate RAP”, commences in 2020 and will continue for two years. This stage will place greater emphasis on delivery – translating initial cultural awareness, strategy and plans into tangible efforts and positive impacts.