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New action plan strengthens reconciliation commitment

30 May 2023
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WEHI has launched its third Reconciliation Action Plan, building on the institute’s deep commitment to broaden and strengthen reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

During National Reconciliation Week, WEHI also released its statement of support for a “yes” vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

At a glance
New “Innovate RAP: June 2023 – June 2025″ supports WEHI’s vision to be purposeful, visible and bold in its efforts to take tangible steps toward reconciliation.
The plan details over 70 practical actions that WEHI will take over the next two years.
WEHI supports a “yes” vote in the referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

Commitment to reconciliation

Since joining Reconciliation Australia’s RAP program in 2013, WEHI has worked closely with Reconciliation Australia to formalise and deliver on the institute’s commitment to reconciliation.

The new “Innovate RAP: June 2023 – June 2025” outlines WEHI’s reconciliation journey so far and the practical actions and commitments it will continue to implement.

WEHI director Professor Doug Hilton AO said the focused efforts over the past decade had put reconciliation at the very heart of the institute’s activities, but the journey was far from over.

“We have strived to build meaningful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, create a culturally safe workplace, provide education and employment opportunities and ensure our research contributes to delivering better health outcomes for First Nations peoples,” Prof Hilton said.

“We have also listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and we know that we have more work to do, so our aspirations and actions meet expectations.

“We can always do more and we should always aim to do more. Our third RAP is WEHI’s formal commitment to doing ‘more’.”
Professor Doug Hilton AO, WEHI Director

Bold vision

The new RAP supports WEHI’s vision to be purposeful, visible and bold in its efforts to take tangible steps toward reconciliation, with more than 70 practical actions focused around three themes:

  • building working relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities
  • delivering WEHI’s research activities with a more strategic approach to benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • demonstrating leadership in the medical research sector

Among the initiatives to be delivered over the next two years, WEHI will join the Reconciliation Industry Network for health-related organisations, develop an Indigenous research and engagement strategy, implement the key actions of its Indigenous Employment Strategy and commit to a fourth RAP to maintain momentum and visibility of its reconciliation efforts.

Aimee McCartney standing next to her custom-designed artwork
Emerging contemporary First Nations artist Aimee McCartney custom-designed a special artwork that features on the cover and throughout the new Innovate RAP.

Custom artwork

Emerging contemporary First Nations artist Aimee McCartney was commissioned by WEHI to design a special artwork that features on the cover and throughout the new Innovate RAP, unveiled at the launch.

McCartney, a proud Taungurung, Wotjobaluk, Wemba Wemba and Boon Wurrung woman, is Director of Luruk-in, an Australian contemporary Aboriginal Art business. Her unique, intricate and eye-catching artworks explore modern society through the looking glass of the world’s oldest living culture.

At the launch of the RAP, staff and students were also invited to sign WEHI’s statement of support for a “yes” vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

A First Nations Voice to Parliament protected by the Constitution is a key element of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which WEHI strongly supported in 2017.

As part of National Reconciliation Week, a special seminar is being held at WEHI tomorrow, featuring guest speaker Dr Graham Gee, Team Leader and Senior Research Fellow, Population Health, at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI).

Dr Gee is a clinical psychologist who worked at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service for 11 years before commencing at MCRI. He will share his research findings and therapeutic experience related to understanding complex trauma within Indigenous communities.

Female staff member signing the statement of support for a
Staff and students were invited to sign WEHI’s statement of support for a “yes” vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.

Delivering on commitments

The launch of the third RAP follows a range of initiatives designed to deliver on WEHI’s reconciliation commitments.

Last year WEHI announced a three-year partnership with not-for-profit DeadlyScience to foster the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists.

WEHI is now collaborating to co-design and deliver science-based programs and activities for First Nations school students, with a pilot program under the WEHI DeadlyScience Pathways partnership set to run later this year.

Since 2014, WEHI has been hosting students through CareerTrackers, a national non-profit organisation that creates internship opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students.

At this year’s CareerTrackers Awards, WEHI was honoured with the Partnering for Excellence Award for going “above and beyond” in its efforts to create opportunities for students through the program, while a former WEHI CareerTracker student was awarded Intern of the Year.

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