NAIDOC Week is celebrated across Australia every year in the first week of July. In 2022, NAIDOC Week falls from 3 to 10 July, and is an opportunity to learn, celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s theme, ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’, calls for a commitment by all Australians to support and secure institutional, structural, collaborative and cooperative reforms, and to celebrate those who have driven and led change.
WSP has committed to tangible actions towards reconciliation, becoming the only engineering firm in Australia to have achieved STRETCH status in its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with Reconciliation Australia.
Our three-year RAP aims to embed reconciliation throughout all areas of our business and is underpinned by four pillars – Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Focus. The RAP has evolved in consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee with key initiatives introduced throughout our ongoing reconciliation journey.
A few of our key initiatives for reconciliation
We seek genuine partnerships to positively impact our work towards reconciliation. Our Indigenous Specialist Services team offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design input on our major projects. Services provided include research and cultural protocols, ethical guidance, project-specific Reconciliation Action Plans, community consultation and stakeholder engagement.
Projects that have benefited from this valuable knowledge include Special Activation Precincts, our Brisbane office, and the Level Crossing Removal Project in Melbourne (Indigenous design efforts for this project won the 2021 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victorian Chapter Award of Excellence for Research, Policy and Communication).
Employment opportunities have also been provided to Indigenous community members on a range of projects including the Moree Special Activation Precinct in NSW and the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade. This project was recognised by the International Road Federation in its 2021 Global Road Achievement Awards, acknowledging Aboriginal participation in the project with one million working hours contributed by 300 people at peak per month.
WSP has recently entered into a Corporate Partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) that leads the planning, development and delivery of health, family wellbeing and social support services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of South East Queensland. Our team is undertaking pro bono work on Aboriginal Design Principles for the Aboriginal co-design of a new IUIH Medical Hub and facilities planned for Dakabin in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region.
In addition, we will continue our support for IUIH on a pro-bono basis, underpinned by our Future ReadyTM methodology for:
- Advice in setting out a brief ‘Roadmap to Completion’ to support IUIH in finalising their grant funding with the Commonwealth, and necessary steps to progress the Development Application through Design, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning to Handover
- Support in selecting a suitable Architect
- Support in developing a Procurement Strategy
Russell Reid, RAP Lead and Senior Aboriginal Affairs and Participation Consultant, says that none of these initiatives, or many of the others implemented and engaged in by WSP, would have been possible without the relationships established with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
“We can only take effective steps towards reconciliation by taking the time to listen, understand and engage. Working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is key to the success of our initiatives.”
Participation in NAIDOC Week
“NAIDOC Week is an important week for all Australians to come and join in the cultural activities and help
celebrate the achievements and resilience of Aboriginal People for the past 230 years,” Russell says. “WSP is participating in internal and external events, and we urge everyone to get involved in NAIDOC Week activities in their local community.”
A Gamillaraay man of the Kamilaroi Nation, Russell is presenting in an Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy webinar on Indigenous Participation on 7 July 2022. The webinar will explore ways that the resources industry can advance and create change through First Nations’ participation in direct employment and business supply relationships.
What are the next steps?
WSP’s current RAP finishes in 2024 and the team is hard at work to ensure that its objectives are met. That won’t be the end of the firm’s reconciliation story though. With six RAPs over 10 years, WSP is proud to continue taking measurable actions to champion and promote positive change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and a more inclusive society.
Learn more about our Indigenous Participation.