The Reconciliation Action Plan program provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement. With the release of its fourth RAP, Telstra is among just 21 other leading organisations with an ‘Elevate’ RAP pledging to develop respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

As Chair of Telstra’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, I’m pleased to announce the release of Telstra’s 2018-2021 Reconciliation Action Plan.

Telstra’s vision for reconciliation is an inclusive Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are connected and empowered to thrive, underpinned by the principles of understanding, cultural strength, focus, and growth. This vision will be achieved by harnessing the strengths of the organisation to build digital futures with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, providing employment and opportunities to lift economic participation, and creating a culturally responsive and engaged organisation.

This 2018-2021 RAP focuses on three areas where Telstra can achieve the greatest outcomes and make the most sense for its business. Its commitments are underpinned by Reconciliation Australia’s pillars – Relationships, Respect and Opportunities, and reflect Telstra’s support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

CEO Andrew Penn says that recognising the past in all its facets is an important part of reconciliation.

“Telstra in one form or another can, in fact, trace its technology origins back to the advent of the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870s.

“Its construction was not without incident and impact on Aboriginal peoples. For some, it was the start of an irreversible disruption to the traditional way of life.

“For others, it brought violence and even death. It is important to acknowledge this history.

“We have a compelling responsibility and an important role to play as a facilitator for economic development and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, no matter where they are across the nation.”

Telstra has come a long way since its very first Indigenous Action Plan in 2008, the same year it, in conjunction with the Northern Territory Government and Rio Tinto, delivered the Arnhem Land Fibre Project connecting nine Indigenous communities and the town of Nhulunbuy to the nation’s fibre optic backbone. Two years later Telstra introduced its first RAP.

Today Telstra enjoys many positive relationships with Indigenous organisations, whether it’s through our investment in remote community infrastructure and digital capability programs, our long-term support of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, or our co-creation of the Indigenous Digital Excellence Roadmap.

Karen Mundine, CEO of Reconciliation Australia said, “Reconciliation Australia congratulates Telstra on its past successes and ongoing commitment to advancing reconciliation as it adopts its fourth RAP – its second to achieve Elevate status”.

“The RAP program inspires social change in workplaces across Australia, generating economic and behavioural transformation with far-reaching, positive impacts.

“By raising the bar of its RAP ambitions, Telstra continues to lead national reconciliation action in the telecommunications sector.”

Download the 2018-2021 Telstra Reconciliation Action Plan.

Main image: Digital Mentor Karim pilots a drone at the recent inDigiMOB workshop in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) © First Nations Media.