As emergency services supporting the safety of the South Australian community and environment, it is important that we reflect the diverse communities that we serve. Our services are spread across the entirety of South Australia, reaching into many Aboriginal communities and engaging many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. We equally have many people within our services who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The South Australian Emergency Services Sector (ESS) has released its inaugural 2022-23 REFLECT Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
RAPs are practical plans of action built on relationships, respect, and opportunities. The RAP initiative was established by Reconciliation Australia in 2006, with finalised RAPs registered with Reconciliation Australia.
The REFLECT RAP is the first stage of reconciliation plans and will be in place for a year for us as a sector to implement key foundational activities.
Aims of the RAP
The Emergency Services Sector (ESS) RAP aims to (but is not limited to):
- Outline, encourage and support ESS volunteers and staff to better reflect the diverse communities we seek to protect, engage, and support through our equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, and by increasing engagement and participation from underrepresented demographics in our organisations.
- Support, encourage, and enable our workforce to work with and empower South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to assist in the improvement of their life experience. There are many successful programs, relationships, and projects, which continue to connect our organisations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In addition, our organisations welcome support and encourage volunteers. We hope that in working through the RAP in a co-ordinated, consistent, and public way we can enhance what we already have and grow our inclusiveness, knowledge, respect, and representation.
- Demonstrate our commitment to continue our learning about and recognition of the value of Indigenous land and fire management practices to mitigate the effects of bushfires and improve disaster resilience. Our organisations seek to continue engaging with Traditional Owners to explore the relationship between Indigenous land management and disaster resilience.
- In our emergency services role, we have an obligation to work with communities to prepare them for disasters, respond to disasters and help them recover from experiencing disasters. As a sector we seek to improve and strengthen our connection to the Indigenous people, we serve to better understand their needs and how we can fulfil our role effectively, collaboratively, and culturally appropriately.
- As South Australian Government agencies, we are both responsible and committed to participating with and supporting the goals of the Aboriginal Affairs Action Plan, with this plan being a key part of that commitment.
The Emergency Services Sector Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group has worked collaboratively to create the first REFLECT RAP.
In preparing this Plan, the Sector formed a Reconciliation Working Group with representation from each of the four agencies to develop and consult on the plan. The RWG members include the Manager People Services, Manager Volunteer Services Group, Manager, Facilities and Procurement, Deputy Chief Officer and Executive Director, Business CFS, Manager Corporate Services SES, Diversity & Inclusion Project officer MFS, Diversity & Inclusion Project Manager MFS, and the Project Officer SAFECOM.
As a member of the Emergency Services Sector, the CFS will, through the Reconciliation Working Group, take practical measures to ensure the actions contained in this Plan are positively promoted and encouraged amongst its workforce and are implemented appropriately.
The ESS Executive committee will also monitor and receive reports on the operation and implementation of the Plan in addition to annual reporting to Reconciliation Australia.