Celebrating NAIDOC WEEK 2020: Always Was, Always Will Be
The theme of NAIDOC Week 2020 is “Always Was, Always Will Be.” The theme recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
With events being held across Australia from the 8-15 November 2020 to celebrate the history, culture & achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the ARA Group looks forward to taking the opportunity to learn more about the First Nations people.
“A week borne from a day of protest, NAIDOC Week each year reminds us of the ongoing aspirations of our communities as they continue the movement towards justice and equality.” – The National NAIDOC Committee (NCC)
NAIDOC Week 2020
NAIDOC Week is an important opportunity for all Australian’s to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year NAIDOC week provides us with opportunity to listen, read and learn to gain greater understanding of the history of the First Nations people in this land.
“It’s about seeing, hearing and learning the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history of this country – which is Australian history.” – The National NAIDOC Committee (NCC)
To see how the culture and practices of our First peoples shaped and first developed the rugged land of Australia. How practices were pioneered, like fire stick farming, to transform one of the harshest continents into a sustainable environment that has provided for generation, upon generation.
To hear and acknowledge the place of our First Nation in maintaining the world’s oldest oral history.
To learn how their intimate knowledge of this land has seen Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples live through the most challenging environmental changes – such as climate change, rising sea levels and drought.
This is our opportunity to continue to engage in conversation and highlight the ongoing call for the recognition of the sovereignty of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
The ARA Group Reconciliation Action Plan
In 2018 ARA Group committed to an innovative Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The ARA RAP Steering Committee meets monthly to ensure that we are meeting our objectives in four key areas; Meaningful community partnerships, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Inclusion, Sustainable employment and Cultural Awareness.
Of these key areas, we believe that Cultural Awareness is the first step in this journey of change. Cultural Awareness is an initiative that has increased enormously over the last 10 years within the corporate sector. Understanding the components, influences and beliefs that impact a race allows you to take into consideration what processes are important to ensure meaningful engagement.
Cultural Awareness is typically held as a training session and the content is shared by a facilitator on background elements that quite often answer the why’s in some working (and frequently personal) misconceptions.
With the recognition of events such as NAIDOC week growing every year, it is promising for the ARA Group to be able to contribute the growing recognition of the benefits of having a workforce that has educational tools to help them to accommodate diversity in the workplace.
ARA Indigenous Services
In 2017 the ARA Group acquired a 49% share in, what is now known as, ARA Indigenous Services. ARA Indigenous Services acknowledges the importance of sharing the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures within our business. Our focus is to collaborate with community, people and professionals to broaden understanding and encourage inclusive business practices.
With the release of the Governments Indigenous Procurement Policy and the Strength of Reconciliation Australia’s programming, the Corporate sector has moved to support Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Engagement and participation right across the country. The ARA Group is grateful to be able to contribute to reconciliation through this pathway.
In May 2018, ARA Indigenous Services launched the Wiimali program, an employment program which encourages Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples to partner with our ARA Indigenous Services team and utilise our support processes.
The word Wiimali originates from the native Gamilaraay language of Australia. It means ‘one to light fire’. The Wiimali program lights the fire toward a successful outcome for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. As a Group, we understand the importance of a strong support mechanism on the job to encourage collaboration, communication and understanding. Ultimately, ensuring that we continue to deliver as a business, as a team and as individuals.
Wiimali is designed to create a smooth operational process for the placement of Indigenous Employees into our workforce and your project, with collaboration, ongoing support and interaction; the program aims to provide suitable personnel appointed to deliver positive results with high retention outcomes.
The program starts with interview preparation, support and mentorship, and continues throughout the employee’s education, their work and their career development. ARA’s Managing Director, Mr Edward Federman, strongly supports this initiative stating:
“Employment is an opportunity for practical reconciliation, in which corporations can make meaningful change”.
Support for success is the key to our Wiimali program. By working closely with our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander engagement officers and our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander employees – both potential and placed, we develop a bespoke, one-on-one opportunity to ensure greater outcomes for their career aspirations. Each Aboriginal & Torres strait Islander employee is supported with our 360 Degree holistic program Wiimali.
Establishing relationships that are built on understanding and commitment, help us to create meaningful change through inclusion. Building on open and honest communications, we continuously strive to create a solid foundation of outcomes, meeting and exceeding the specific needs of our valued customers, enhancing our business and creating strong and continued contributions towards Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Wiimali: The Story Behind The Name
As previously mentioned Wiimali, from the Gamilaraay language, means ‘one to light fire’. Fire is a significant part of everyday Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures: the burning of leaves is representative of blessing, cleansing or eradicating evil/bad spirits, Nambuk Yabun is a ceremony that uses fire to embrace or farewell people from other lands, and fire was used to drive game towards hunters to feed families and clear paths through dense undergrowth to allow interaction between clans. Most importantly, there is the campfire, where clans would come together to gather and exchange stories, create connection and share food.
The ARA Groups’ ongoing commitment to Reconciliation in Australia.
The ARA Group is trying its best to make a positive difference to eliminate cultural barriers and improve the lives of all First Nations people. We are committed to diligently working to create meaningful engagement with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Lead by Michael O’Loughlin and Suzanne Grech, ARA is committed to a path of Reconciliation in Australia.
We would like to encourage all ARA staff to take part in NAIDOC events for the remainder of the week take opportunity to learn more about the commitments in our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
For more information on NAIDOC Week 2020 Events, Visit: https://www.naidoc.org.au/get-involved/naidoc-week-events