National Reconciliation Week (NRW) saw Whitehaven Coal and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) engage in open dialogue and honest conversation, as the two groups came together to explore the shared ways in which we can contribute to a unified future.
The NSWALC is one of the largest member based Aboriginal organisations in Australia with 119 Local Aboriginal Land Councils spread across NSW. Whitehaven was delighted to host Chairperson Roy Ah-See, Deputy Chairperson Anne Dennis and Councillor for the Northern Region Charles Lynch at our Sydney and Newcastle offices for a series of events during NRW.
Whitehaven Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn said the company’s work with Indigenous communities in North West NSW over the last twenty years would not have been possible without the NSWALC.
“A big part of Whitehaven’s role in the region is to listen and share and work with Indigenous communities to bring about tangible outcomes,” said Mr Flynn.
“One way we achieve this is by working closely with our Local Aboriginal Land Councils, which are a vital link into the local Indigenous communities.
“It’s a relationship that we’ve built from the ground up and is underpinned by mutual respect and an understanding of each other’s concerns, expectations and values.”
This year’s NRW theme – Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage – acknowledges that at the heart of reconciliation is a relationship between the broader Australian community and Indigenous peoples, and that the truth of our nation’s past must be reflected in the present.
Whitehaven’s Aboriginal Community Relations Officer, Bob Sutherland, said National Reconciliation Week is an important week for the company’s workforce – 12% of which identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“The week is a great opportunity to celebrate the progress we’ve made to bring about intergenerational change, which in our region means lowering the unemployment rate, providing opportunities in education through school programs and skills training, and supporting community partnerships,” said Mr Sutherland.
“Our industry leading Reconciliation Action Plan, launched in 2015 and updated in 2018, is the key to ensuring we remain on track to addressing these local issues through practical and meaningful measures.
“One of these measures is our Indigenous Employment Strategy, which has already achieved the ambitious goals we set back in 2015, including employing 214 Indigenous employees, training four Indigenous apprentices, and contributing $22.5 million in salaries and wages to members of our workforce who identify as Indigenous in 2018.
“While we take great pride in the relationships we’ve built, we know we can’t be complacent. We have to continue working hard to maintain and grow that respect.”