Guidelines on connecting more closely with our Indigenous communities in Australia.
Many of Scentre Group’s 34 Australian centres are located within geographical areas of cultural significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. As such, we believe it’s our responsibility to ensure that we not only understand and embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and rights, but also strive to increase appreciation, respect and understanding among our staff, as well as the broader community.
Following the release of the Group’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2016, we recognised the value of providing some guidance for staff that could support their implementation of the many commitments outlined in our RAP.
Issued at the start of National Reconciliation Week, the Guidelines’ release coincided with a time of special significance in Australia’s reconciliation journey, falling on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum * where, among other things, Australians voted to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the census; and the 25th anniversary of the historic Mabo decision** which paved the way for native title.
With a mandate to provide a starting point to facilitate stronger relationships between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, the Guidelines are an introduction to various cultural protocols within the multitude of Indigenous communities, with tips on how to take further steps to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture.
"Our mandate is simple: create sustainable, meaningful change for Australia’s First Nations people."
Ian Irving, Chair of Scentre Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Council
The Guidelines also cover a range of additional topics including significant dates, cultural etiquette, respectful communication and terminology, and key contacts within the Aboriginal Land Councils around Australia and other key national bodies. Importantly, the guidelines acknowledge there is no one Indigenous culture but rather many distinct cultures and languages and often distinct protocols within what is referred to more generally as our ‘Indigenous Community’.
In recognition of National Reconciliation Week a morning tea was held in the Group’s support office in Sydney, where an official Welcome to Country was given by representatives of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. The new Guidelines were launched, and a plaque was unveiled acknowledging the traditional owners of the land.
Ian Irving, Chair of Scentre Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Council said: “Whether you’re undertaking a specific RAP activity or simply seeking to deepen your understanding, there’s something for all of us to learn in reading these guidelines. Our mandate is simple: create sustainable, meaningful change for Australia’s First Nations people,” says Ian.
*27 May—The anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum and a defining event in our nation’s history. Over 90% of Australians voted to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census.
**3 June—Commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or native title.