Co-operatives and mutuals chart path to reconciliation

11 April 2023

In 2021 the BCCM released the Doing Business Together – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Inclusion in the Australian Co-operative and Mutual Sector report. This research highlighted the ways in which the economic participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples could be advanced through co-operative and mutual models of business. The international co-operative principles were found to be strongly aligned with First Nations values, making the co-op model a more culturally appropriate business structure to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander empowerment.

A key aspect of increasing the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the co-operative and mutual sector is engaging in meaningful steps towards reconciliation and positive inclusion. The BCCM has commenced the development of a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will provide a framework for the BCCM and its members to establish better opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations in our sector.

As part of their commitment to reconciliation, Great Southern Bank is helping fund the development of a Reflect RAP for the BCCM and the broader co-op and mutual sector, and the production of industry resources to guide co-ops and mutuals on their own reconciliation journey.

“Reconciliation is an opportunity to strengthen relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples and is a journey that we can all walk together,” Great Southern Bank CEO and BCCM Board Member Paul Lewis said.

“At Great Southern Bank, we want to contribute to shifting perceptions and attitudes that may be barriers to reconciliation – for us as individuals and across our organisation. Following the recent completion of all actions in our first Reflect RAP, we are pleased to support the development of BCCM’s own Reflect RAP to provide a framework for positive change across the co-operative and mutual sector.”

The BCCM is grateful for this assistance and is looking forward to further supporting First Nations economic participation and empowerment through reconciliation.

BCCM members are supporting the RAP development through the BCCM RAP Working Group (RWG), which has representatives from a range of co-operative and mutual organisations. BCCM’s Reflect RAP was initiated with Reconciliation Australia in December 2022 and is due to be lodged with Reconciliation Australia for approval before November 2023. The RWG is working closely with Tranby College Aboriginal Co-operative, an RTO that delivers accredited training in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander governance. The Tranby team are working with the BCCM to develop and deliver a course in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander co-operative governance.

Membership of the RWG is open to BCCM members and was initiated in February 2023. To learn more about the working group, please email Linda Seaborn.

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