The AP+ POV – Taking the first steps in our reconciliation journey

12 April 2024
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By Jason Backhouse - General Manager, Open Payments 

One of the first conversations we had as AP+ was forming, was about starting on our reconciliation journey, and establishing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). 

The AP+ vision to create an open, vibrant, and sustainable payments ecosystem in Australia, that benefits all Australians, can’t succeed in isolation from ensuring that we have an equal and equitable Australia, that is unified and where First Australians are some of the key beneficiaries of the vision we deliver. 

AP+ has so many touchpoints across the economy, and with so many of our members on well-established RAP journeys, it made sense we should strive to have an inordinate impact in areas that were important to us. 

RAPs assist businesses to embed the principles and purpose of reconciliation. According to Reconciliation Australia, since 2006, RAPs have enabled organisations to sustainably and strategically take meaningful action to advance reconciliation based around the core pillars of relationships, respect, and opportunities

The 2023 RAP Impact Report by Reconciliation Australia shows: 

  • Data collected from 1,873 organisations with a RAP covering the July 2022-June 2023 period; 
  • 5,404,826 people now work or study in an organisation with a RAP; 
  • 574 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in executive leadership positions in RAP organisations; 
  • 606 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on Boards; and  
  • 18,588 formal and informal partnerships between RAP organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. 

Early memories of AP+ include our George Street office opening, which included a smoking ceremony and feedback from the team was just how much that really grounded the business in its purpose and made us thankful to be occupying this small piece of land that has been looked after for so many thousands of years by its Aboriginal custodians. 

So, we established our RAP working group about 18 months ago, with a bunch of committed people who have worked diligently to get us to where we are today. We also engaged with broader organisations within our sphere to get their learnings and to leverage work where we could. 

Our first year was really focused on increasing knowledge amongst the organisation have held many sessions to grow the knowledge within our organisation with speakers such as Nick Eakin from “From the Heart” on the voice and the Uluru Statement, as well as a fun workshop with Acknowledge This! on how to acknowledge country in a way that is genuine, heartfelt and incorporating our own respect and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, especially acknowledging those from our own places of upbringing and the different Indigenous owners of the lands we are speaking from. 

Over that period, it has been great to see the Acknowledgements of Country become ingrained in what we do and to see people sharing their own knowledge and respect in the ways they present. 

In launching our first RAP, we wanted to mark the significance of this to the organisation which is why we worked with Mahalia Mabo to commission a piece that speaks to the unity that we can bring as an organisation. 

This represents the first step on our journey but the commitment of all the people of AP+ to lean in, be genuinely curious and to act means we have a strong path into the future where we can start to make meaningful change and create a vibrant, open, and sustainable Australia. 

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