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Red Cross announces wide-ranging plan to improve Indigenous outcomes

Australian Red Cross has unveiled an ambitious, wide-ranging blueprint for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at the launch of its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in Melbourne today.

Thursday July 9, 2015

The plan aspires to raise employment levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff in the organisation from the current 6.3 per cent to 9 per cent.

Speaking at an event in NAIDOC Week, Red Cross President Michael Legge said the organisation represents one million Red Cross members, volunteers, donors, staff, blood donors and supporters around Australia.

"We want Australia's First Nations peoples to share a prosperous, safe and healthy future with all other Australians," he said. "We will play our part in achieving this by deeply embedding a set of practices and targets across all levels from Board and senior management right through to our work on the ground in communities, and even in international programs.

"We build on the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by empowering people to have a voice and better control of their own lives and environments. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are best placed to address the needs of their own communities.

"We stand with and support individuals, families and communities as they drive and lead their own solutions."

Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Di Kerr performed the Welcome to Country at today's RAP launch, which was also addressed by Karen Mundine, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Reconciliation Australia.

Red Cross is active in a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as working with Indigenous people elsewhere across Australia. When developing Indigenous-specific programs Red Cross focuses on local solutions, early prevention and intervention, collaboration, and employment of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Red Cross strategic thinking is guided by its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team; a group of staff from around the country which meets regularly and advises the organisation on policy and best practices to achieve sustained improvements.

The RAP also allows for:

• Cultural competency training for all staff

• Celebrations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander significance, including Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week

• Working collaboratively and not in competition with Indigenous organisations

• Improved retention of Indigenous staff and volunteers

• Improved procurement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses

• Annual measurements of staff understanding and engagement in reconciliation

• Ongoing measurement of our partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations

Mr Legge said Red Cross has long-term partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the country, including Wallaga Lakes, Horsham , Kempsey, Woorabinda, Kalgoorlie, Tiwi Islands, Ceduna and Cairns.

• In Woorabinda, we are working with the local community and seeing improved rates of primary school attendance and reduced levels of offending.

• In Victoria, the Wominjeka Leadership Group has engaged with the Wurundjeri Traditional Owners, which is leading to increased access by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Red Cross programs.

• In Katherine, Red Cross operates Kalano Aged Service for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in partnership with the Kalano Aboriginal Community

• In Galiwinku, the Healthy Baby Healthy Community Program is operated in partnership with Miwatj Aboriginal Health, and has reduced rates of childhood anaemia and failure to thrive babies. We are pleased to see the Stronger Communities for Children program in Galiwinku has become self-sustaining to the point where it is being developed for handover to the local Yalu community.

• In WA, Red Cross provides a safe short-term accommodation in the Kalgoorlie Boulder region for Aboriginal people traveling for a range of health and personal reasons. The accommodation is provided in collaboration with local Indigenous community.

• In Cairns Red Cross runs a Wellbeing Centre offering quality affordable accommodation in a culturally safe environment for up to 80 people from rural and remote Far North communities who need to be in Cairns for medical treatment.

Red Cross is also marking NAIDOC Week with the historic roll-out of a signage to be permanently displayed at all 350 Red Cross offices and sites around Australia, acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which they are based.

The signs, designed by artist Leigh Harris, will be fixed at the front entrances of all Red Cross sites in the country, as a reminder to all who visit and work there of the deep and ongoing ties with the land of the first Australians.