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We are proud to announce that as of November 2021, we have successfully completed our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – Reflect. During the last 12 months, we have built genuine foundations that will facilitate a long, ongoing and successful reconciliation journey, as we move through Reconciliation Australia’s RAP framework.

A message from our CEO

It is with great pride that I share the success of the organisation’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. Completing 47 projects outlined in the RAP within a 12-month time frame is an achievement we can all be proud of.

Embracing Reconciliation Australia’s RAP program, we have spent time understanding how our programs support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, reflecting on our reconciliation maturity, exploring who we are, and who we want to be as an organisation.

In addition to our achievements outlined in the document, projects emerged through the spirit and commitment of our teams, supporting key themes that underpin our Reflect RAP. It has been incredible to see how key learnings have translated into reconciliation action.

While we have begun to heal from the past, there is much more work to do. As we move into 2022, we will continue to embrace reconciliation, holding the Reflect RAP values in our hearts and minds, until we launch an Innovate RAP.

Michael Perusco, CEO

Berry Street staff commit, learn and reflect

During November 2020 – November 2021, Berry Street staff embraced key themes and deliverables in our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan with collective commitment, willingness to learn and deep respect for reconciliation as an organisation, and country.

We’re pleased to share with you some of the feedback we received from staff across the organisation:

  • “I’m proud of the progress Berry Street has made towards reconciliation in the last 12 months but acknowledge this is an ongoing journey that the organisation is committed to.”
  • “The efforts of Berry Street Education Model to integrate reconciliation in our heads, hearts and hands through our daily work has been motivated at every step by the Reconciliation Action Plan.”
  • “Since my appointment in 2019, the importance of cultural safety and genuine commitment to reconciliation was deeply seeded and felt across the organisational leadership team.”
  • “Being part of the Reflect RAP journey has been incredibly humbling, eye-opening and revolutionary. As a non-Aboriginal migrant woman, I acknowledge that I also have a part to play in reconciliation. It starts with open and authentic dialogue, to develop a shared understanding of our history, culture, identity, spirituality, pain and healing. To truly blossom as an organisation and nation, we need to honour, respect and lead by action to strive and create real change.”
  • “The opportunity to learn with and contribute to the Walking Together Group, and work closely with our cultural lead, colleagues and clients in culturally responsive ways, has been a transformative experience.”

Embedding reconciliation at Berry Street: 47 of 47 RAP projects completed

While key projects thrived, new projects emerged, capturing the spirit of truth-telling, cultural connection, the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander voice being heard, valued and respected, along with celebrating the great strength and resilience of the longest living, continuous culture in the world.

Some of the key projects that were completed during the implementation of our Reflect RAP include:

  • Bagung Ngarrgu – Digital Workplace: Bagung Ngarrgu is Woi Wurrung (the language of the Wurundjeri People) for ‘Gather Knowledge’. Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Gail, from the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Aboriginal Heritage Council, generously gifted Berry Street the name for the purpose of the organisation’s new digital workplace.
  • Cultural Support Plan Project: An authentic reflection and review of current practice, systems and relationships to better understand how we support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people in our care.
  • Berry Street School RAP Launch: On 14 November, the Berry Street School launched their first Narragunnwali Reconciliation Action Plan. Staff, students, families and community members based on Yorta Yorta, Boon Wurrung, Gunai Kurnai and Wadawurrung Country, joined online to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Read more about these projects in our Reflect RAP Report.

Next steps on our reconciliation journey

Following the success of the Reflect RAP, we will commence the development of our Innovate RAP in early 2022. An Innovate RAP is a 24-month commitment, that requires partnerships and projects with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs). This is an opportunity for portfolios across Berry Street to be creative with potential projects that will support cultural connection for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait services users, and reconciliation more broadly.

It is important to note that while the deliverables in the Reflect RAP are complete, reconciliation at Berry Street is 365 days a year. This means that we will continue to operate under the values of the RAP document, supporting new opportunities to embed reconciliation.

We look forward to continuing our reconciliation journey with you.