We honour their ongoing spiritual relationship with their Country and continuing connection to culture, community, land, sea and sky. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging leaders as well as all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members.
A Decade-Long Commitment
Our vision for reconciliation is simple: we want to create sustainable, vibrant and connected places for all Australians where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to thrive in the natural and built environment. It is underpinned by four pillars: Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Focus.
Our journey towards reconciliation began more than 10 years ago with the development of our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Now in its sixth evolution, our RAP has evolved in consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee. In addition, we stand side by side with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and in 2019 accepted the invitation to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart that empowers Indigenous communities for a brighter future.
Listening, Learning and Leading
At WSP, we exist to create equitable, inclusive and sustainable societies for today and future generations. As one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consulting firms, we design communities that bring people together from all walks of life.
To do that, the most important skill we bring to the table as placemakers is our ability to listen and learn.
Locally we employ 4,000 people, working on over a thousand projects a year across every State and Territory of Australia. We recognise the unique role they play in the nation’s heritage and our future. Importantly, every single project we undertake for our clients sits on First Nations Country. That’s why we seek to tie the work we do today to the enduring cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their connection to Country.
WSP works hard to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in infrastructure projects and to stimulate growth for Indigenous businesses and communities. Our long-term involvement on the Pacific Complete joint venture working with Transport for NSW and Laing O’Rourke on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade, is one recent example we’re very proud of. Pacific Complete and Transport for New South Wales committed to hiring local Indigenous leaders in meaningful roles. We achieved higher-than-promised employment rates, high community engagement and a selection of local Indigenous businesses became suppliers.
We create educational opportunities and career pathways, which enable us to create strong and culturally respectful relationships. One of our key achievements is the establishment of the Science and Infrastructure Development (SID) School by WSP Australia in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology Oodgeroo Unit (QUT) which focuses on closing the gap in education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Reconciliation is a Journey
Beginning on 27 May and ending on 3 June, we commemorate National Reconciliation Week (NRW) – this year’s theme, ‘More than a word. Reconciliation takes action’, urges the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action. All our offices around Australia are hosting, participating and engaging in a range of events to commemorate NRW.
“Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals and as WSP employees, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation,” says Russell Reid, RAP Lead and Senior Aboriginal Affairs & Participation Consultant, WSP. “At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“All WSP people have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures. After all, every project we plan, design, engineer or consult on is located on a First Nations country.”
Building Cultural Knowledge into Infrastructure
WSP is at the forefront of industry change when it comes to Indigenous co-design – and has a real opportunity to create a built environment that reflects Australia’s First Peoples.
Incorporating Indigenous knowledge and culture in the designs of important infrastructure and built environment projects helps create strong and culturally respectful relationships with Indigenous communities. In 2018, we established an Indigenous Specialist Services group to help our clients create a built environment that reflects Australia’s First Peoples. It also assists in highlighting the historical and ongoing connection to Country of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This is a ground-breaking initiative that fills a gap in current reconciliation activities within Australia.
“Indigenous co-design is important if we are to progress the Australian design trajectory,” says Michael Hromek, WSP’s Technical Executive, Indigenous (Architecture). “The power of Aboriginal design encompasses a potential to influence a new Australian vernacular, where designs intrinsically connect to place and context.
“This approach in turn generates meaningful opportunities for Indigenous people, businesses and communities across project lifecycles. It also engages our clients in discussion on reconciliation and provides them with concrete opportunities for acknowledgement of culture and history through design of their projects.
“Typically, these are large infrastructure projects within public areas. In this way, we are leading both our clients and the broader public along a journey of truth-telling, acknowledgement and reconciliation.”
We are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including:
- Over 170 opportunities and projects designed on Country – including projects across all our business units and sectors including Transport, Property, Resources, Environment, Water, Power and corporate functions. These opportunities and projects were in over 45 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Countries across all our regions encompassing QLD, NSW, ACT, Vic, SA, WA and NT.
- Engagement with over 100 clients including a national contractor tasked with implementing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement plans and incorporating Indigenous design and knowledge on their projects.
- Creation of 30+ Aboriginal Design Principles documents for clients to demonstrate how their infrastructure projects can incorporate cultural knowledge and Indigenous designs.