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NHW launches its first Reconciliation Action Plan

Reconciliation Action Plan Launch
Aboriginal Liaison Officer Bonnie Marsh, Interim CEO Fiona Shanks, Aboriginal Liaison Officer Anita Cooper and Dr Seb Kirby launching the Reconciliation Action Plan at NHW.

Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) has taken its most significant step towards reconciliation with the launch of its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The RAP was launched today to an online audience of key stakeholders, board members and staff who have driven the creation of the document.

The launch comes after the endorsement of the RAP by Reconciliation Australia.

Interim CEO Fiona Shanks said the journey in developing and launching a RAP had involved hard work of current and past staff in consultation with the community.

“For Northeast Health the decision to implement a Reconciliation Action Plan is a genuine and conscientious approach to embed and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, wellbeing and cultures into our business model,” she said.

“NHW is the largest employer in Wangaratta and we have a responsibility to be an inclusive, welcoming and safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have the need for our services.”

Key actions stemming from the RAP have already begun to be implemented at NHW, which will guide NHW’s reconciliation journey until September 2022, when a new RAP is developed in line with the Reconciliation Australia framework.

NHW’s Aboriginal Liaison Officers Anita Cooper and Bonnie Marsh both spoke at the launch, expressing the meaning behind NHW endorsing the RAP.

“This is more than just a document, this is real and accountable change,” Anita said.

Bonnie said NHW’s target was to reach every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient who presents to the health service, ensuring they receive culturally appropriate support and care.

NHW’s Dr Seb Kirby also spoke at the launch, as he and a fellow former NHW junior doctor Zara La Roche were the driving force behind the initiative of the RAP journey in 2019.

“This reconciliation action plan is only the first phase of a journey that NHW began embarking on back in 2019, and will lay the foundation for the organisation to learn, change and grow into a business that actively contributes to and supports reconciliation,” he said.

Key partners that assisted with the development of the RAP are: Dirrawarra indigenous Network, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), Central Hume Primary Care Partnership, Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health services, Mungabareena Aboriginal Health Service, and Department of Education and Training – Koorie Engagement Unit.

The RAP includes 18 actions grouped under the themes of Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and Governance.

Key actions include:

  • improving employment outcomes by increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruitment, retention and professional development,
  • ensuring NHW reflects a culturally safe environment,
  • demonstrating respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by observing cultural protocols, and
  • promoting positive race relations through anti-discrimination strategies.

Download a digital copy of the Reconciliation Action Plan 2021-2022.pdf

A recording of the launch is available on NHW’s Youtube channel – Reconciliation Action Plan Launch