Reconciliation Action Plan
Acknowledgment of Country
Women’s Health and Equality Queensland (WHEQ) acknowledges and pays respects to Queensland’s past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders, and the continuation of cultural, spiritual, and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. WHEQ also acknowledges the important role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women continue to play in maintaining their community’s health and wellbeing.
Our Reconciliation Journey
In 2019, WHEQ began developing a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), as part of the first steps to lay the foundation of our organisation’s reconciliation initiatives.
The need for a RAP at WHEQ was raised by proud Mununjahli Yugambeh woman from Southeast Queensland, Alice Currie, when she worked here. Alice felt a lack of representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture, and felt that she was alone. She brought the issue to our CEO’s attention, and asked if WHEQ had ever thought about having a RAP, and that she felt it would reflect our organisation’s values.
Alice began the RAP process soon after. She reached out to Uncle Bill from Reconciliation Queensland, who helped with some initial guidance and support before connecting in with Reconciliation Australia. After some internal conversations to gauge curiosity, Alice sent out an expression of interest to form a RAP Working Group.
A group was then established and worked to identify steps that would be involved in setting up the action plan; what our vision for the RAP would be, how it aligns with our purpose and values, and our commitment towards reconciliation.
After a year of internal meetings, consultations with external stakeholders who provided us feedback, and ongoing engagement with Reconciliation Australia, we were ready to assign responsibilities to members in the working group. Once our final action plan was written, we were ready to submit our Reflect RAP to Reconciliation Australia for endorsement.
Endorsement & Publication
After several round of feedback, the final RAP was approved.
Before publication, we commission an Aboriginal artist to create a unique piece of Indigenous artwork to reflect our reconciliation journey. We received many beautiful expressions of interest, and eventually chose Elaine Chambers-Hegarty to create the piece.
Alice stayed on as our volunteer consultant and RAP Chair and continues to work with us on the ongoing actions for our RAP, and anything relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters or queries that need consultation. WHEQ extends our heartfelt thanks to Alice for her valuable and ongoing contributions.
Our RAP is a strategic document that supports our business plan and includes practical action that will drive our contribution to reconciliation both within WHEQ and in the wider community. As part of the reconciliation journey, the RAP Working Group will promote a whole-of-organisation approach.
In early August of 2021, Our RAP was endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. We held a small breakfast for employees and members of the working group to celebrate the launch.
Our RAP was then publicly launched to share our commitment and journey with the wider community. Reconciliation Australia have also published a copy of our RAP on their website here.
Our Reflect RAP actions will be completed between July 2021 and July 2022. This is our first action plan, and we are committed to continue these goals and to improve our reconciliation as our organisation grows.
Artwork Story & Artist Profile
We commissioned an Aboriginal artist to create the artwork that adorns the cover of our RAP. This artwork was created by Elaine Chambers-Hegarty. She is a proud Aboriginal woman with ancestral links to the Koa (Guwa), Kuku Yalangi and Barada Barna nations. Elaine is a graphic designer with nearly 30 years experience in the print industry. She can create visual concepts with the latest digital design techniques plus her own traditional art skills.
The image in the centre depicts a woman’s body. Flower symbols in the centre section represents all that flowers mean to women, nature, birth, strength, and resilience. Dots at the top of the woman, encourage a positive headspace, but knowing the complexities represented by other dots and line-markings. Linework shows pathways, whilst the bottom areas shows mountains and the peaks we overcome. Whilst water to us all is life, and women are givers of life – water also has other meanings such as protection and healing. The base of the woman shows the water and the ripple effect working in a positive way.
Why Have a RAP?
Below, we have videos of our staff, discussing why they think that the RAP is important to have at WHEQ, and their personal feelings:
Our Commitments So Far
We have created pathways for referral for various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations across the Brisbane region, and will continue to strengthen these relationships and accessibility.
Youth Ally Project (Aurukun)
The Youth Ally project seeks to create a community of practice between engaged youth advisory groups across the state. Alongside creating a primary plan, the project gives young leaders the skills they need to be an Ally to themselves, by learning to understand concepts of consent, red flags, and the various forms of violence.
The training delivered in Aurukun was tailored specific for needs of Aurukun young people. The two women who participated are locals, and were able to share invaluable knowledge and insights into the story of relationships in Aurukun, with the facilitators.
WHEQ is committed to considering and listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all of our advocacy pieces.
- Position statement on January 26th Invasion Day 2022. Read here.
WHEQ had a dedicated afternoon for all staff to participate in a Welcome to Country by Aunty Deborah Sandy, who identifies as a Traditional Woman of Miguntyun-Brisbane Northside and Yerongapan Southside. RAP chair, Alice Currie, also attended the event.
International Women’s Day 2021
In 2021, WHEQ hosted International Women’s Day afternoon tea which was opened with a Welcome to Country by Songwoman Maroochy Baramabah of Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi ancestry. She is the Songwoman and Law-woman of the Turrbal Tribe. The event highlighted the voices of young women and community members including a talk by Alice Currie.
This event also hosted the official launch of the 7 Women, 7 Questions campaign, which has an interview featuring Kristal West, a Piadram & Manbarra woman who works as a singer/ songwriter, and Indigenous hospital liaison officer.
Reconciliation Week 2022
During Reconciliation Week, WHEQ staff and participants took part in a Weaving and Yarning Circle, hosted by Rosie from Culturally-Informed Practices and her daughters Patricia and Shareen from Gamilaraay Gulay art.
It was a wonderful day of reflection, sharing and learning. We started with a Yarning circle to discuss the history and significance of Reconciliation Week, and set our intentions for the day. We then started in with the weaving, and after much trial and error, all got right into the practice. We continued our yarning and sharing throughout the process.