31 May 2021

Positive steps on path to reconciliation

This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) is ‘More than a word, reconciliation takes action’.

Over the past few years, Hunter Water has taken a number of positive steps as it works towards reconciliation within its business and the community.

Our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a Reflect RAP, was launched in July 2019 during NAIDOC Week.

The RAP reflects our commitment to create improved economic, health and social outcomes for our First Nations people.

The pledges in our Reflect RAP are focused on three key areas: our people, community engagement, and sustainable procurement.

Senior HR Business Partner – Inclusion and Diversity, Lisa Warren, said some of Hunter Water’s initiatives had already been achieved on the journey to building stronger relationships with stakeholders and the First Nations community.

“We engaged Saretta Fielding, an award-winning Aboriginal artist of the Wonnarua and Awabakal Nations, to work with members of the RAP working group to create an artwork, ‘Mariin Kaling – All for Water’, which celebrates our shared natural resource of water.

“During National Reconciliation Week last year, we also launched our newest education resource, ‘Where’s Our Water?’

“This free children’s eBook tells a story about native animals living around the Hunter River, drawing on the traditional wisdom and practices of Aboriginal people in caring for our land and waterways,” said Ms Warren.

The story, which was written by 10 Aboriginal students from Newcastle High School, aims to educate young people about the value of water. The book can be found on our website and is available in both Awabakal and Worimi languages.

Hunter Water has also become a member of the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which gives us access to a database of Indigenous suppliers within the Newcastle region.

Ms Warren said there were many more opportunities in terms of what we could do in the employment, community engagement, and procurement space.

“There is more work to be done in how we provide work experience and employment opportunities, how we partner with Aboriginal community groups and other like-minded organisations, how we support or sponsor community events and activities, and how we create opportunities to engage with and build the capability of Aboriginal businesses.
Lisa Warren, Senior HR Business Partner - Inclusion and Diversity

“We will build on the success of the actions completed under our first RAP and will aim to up the ante each year with our reconciliation activities,” said Ms Warren.

Hunter Water is currently in the process of developing a second RAP, which we hope to release later in the year.

Meanwhile, we were proud to attend a Schools Day as part of a unique festival during National Reconciliation Week.

Rising from the Embers, which aims to raise awareness and celebrate the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage of the Hunter Region, allowed us to connect with local schools and network with other stakeholders.