More than a word. Reconciliation takes action. is the National Reconciliation Week (NRW) theme for 2021. Held from 27 May to 3 June, NRW is a time for us to reflect on the reconciliation journey so far. Additionally, this NRW is the celebration of 20 years since the establishment of Reconciliation Australia.
For the ACA, our journey is in its early stages with our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) the cornerstone of our reconciliation commitment. More broadly, in the community and as individuals, a hallmark of NRW is coming together to learn about shared histories, cultures and achievements and to consider how we can all contribute towards achieving reconciliation in Australia.
This year, the NRW theme is urging the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action. Reconciliation Australia provides the following insight:
“The Reconciliation movement is at a tipping point. In the past year, with Black Lives Matter protests and huge numbers at Invasion Day rallies across the country, we’re seeing people understanding the truth and speaking up on issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. More than a word. Reconciliation takes action asks people to take this awareness and knowledge, and use it as a springboard to more substantive, brave action.”1
What is the importance of reconciliation for chiropractors?
In basic terms, the goal of the reconciliation movement is a just, equitable, reconciled Australia. Currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience inequity of access to services other Australians broadly benefit from, including chiropractic care.
For health professions, practitioners and their peak bodies, such as the ACA, it is important to both understand the poorer health outcomes experienced, and support the national effort to realise greater equity in health, social and emotional wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
For example, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports that of the Australian population aged 15-64, 54% of non-indigenous Australians are assessed as being in good health, while for indigenous Australians, this figure is just 28%. The primary reasons for this ‘gap’ are social determinants of health, health risk factors and access to appropriate services.2 When you take a closer look at Indigenous health reports and statistics, via government reporting mechanisms such as the AIHW or Australian Bureau of Statistics, you will quickly realise that this is not an isolated statistic. It becomes easy to understand why the improved health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a priority for governments and healthcare providers in Australia.
These statistics and health outcomes will not improve unless the underlying inequity is addressed. National Reconciliation Week is an opportunity for practitioners and organisations to reflect on their contribution and commit to do more within their spheres of influence to ‘Close the Gap’.
Why does the ACA have a Reconciliation Action Plan?
As an Association, our core vision is for more Australians to value and experience chiropractic care for their health and wellbeing. This vision cannot be achieved to its fullest extent in Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island population without acknowledging the history and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, building respectful and collaborative relationships and working in partnership to deliver culturally safe care.
The ACA’s RAP plays an important role in connecting both the Association and the chiropractic profession with the vision and goals of reconciliation. The RAP provides a framework of action for the Association to implement strategies and initiatives to:
- build the chiropractic profession’s awareness and understanding of the history and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- support equity in health, social and emotional wellbeing;
- develop opportunities within the organisation to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities;
- explore how the organisation can drive reconciliation through its business activities, services, programs, stakeholders and/or sphere of influence;
- build respectful and collaborative relationships both at an Association level and locally; and
- develop the framework and education required for chiropractors to deliver culturally safe care.
The RAP demonstrates that we have more than just good intentions. That as a profession, we recognise public health issues, particularly as they relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing and are committed and active participants in playing a contributing role to improved outcomes.
The journey so far
In November 2019, the Association began its Reconciliation journey, launching our Reflect RAP. The Reflect RAP was the first of four Reconciliation Action Plans that will be written and implemented over the coming years. Each RAP builds on the work of its predecessor.
Since August 2020, the ACA’s ARRPN Committee and RAP working group have been developing and drafting the ACA’s next Reconciliation Action Plan, titled ‘Innovate’. Like the Reflect RAP, the Innovate RAP outlines the actions and deliverables to achieve the ACA’s vision for reconciliation. The design of this RAP encourages the ACA to be aspirational and innovative, focusing on:
- developing and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
- gaining a deeper understanding of the ACA’s sphere of influence;
- engaging staff and stakeholders in reconciliation; and
- establishing strategies and the best approach for advancing reconciliation within the organisation and profession.
The Innovate RAP has been reviewed by the ACA Board in November and has also completed the first round of review by Reconciliation Australia. In April, the ARRPN Committee completed a final review of the RAP, factoring in feedback provided by Reconciliation Australia. The final draft has now been submitted for endorsement. Once endorsed, the Innovate RAP will be published and launched to members and stakeholders.
The ARRPN Committee and RAP working group have appreciated the positive feedback and support from members since the launch of the Reflect RAP in 2019. As we progress to launching and working through the Innovate RAP, members will have the opportunity to actively participate in the delivery of the ACA RAP actions, through activities such as cultural safety training.
We appreciate your continued support of the Association’s RAP. Your support ensures our commitment to reconciliation ‘takes action’.