On 13 February 2008, Apology Day became a defining moment in Australia's history when the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian, acknowledging the Stolen Generations.
Seven years on, Apology Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on the discussions and progress we have made.
In 2010, we were the first customer owned bank to sign a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). We made the commitment to contribute to the reconciliation effort and to help close the gap between First Australians and other Australians.
The plan communicated our vision to help increase awareness of reconciliation while building the capacity of organisations that contribute to the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Last year we launched our third RAP during National Reconciliation Week to reaffirm our commitment to the cause.
The latest plan continues to focus on the three themes of respect, relationships and opportunities with a range of actions across our business, including installing recognition plaques in our service centres as Recognition of Country.
As part of our commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and personal development, we invested close to $17,000 in 2014 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarships.
Our most recent of these was the YWCA Queensland She Leads Indigenous Scholarship, where we are supporting Wilma Kemp from Red Cross in Townsville to complete a Diploma of Management this year.
Since 2011, we have employed eight young First Australian people through our Trainee Program while they complete a Certificate III in Financial Services qualification. Three trainees who have completed the program are now still working with the bank, with others having gone on to other employment.
This year we've announced our support for recognising First Australians in the Constitution. We continue to encourage broader engagement, discussion and debate of the campaign among staff, customers and the wider community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived in this land for more than 40,000 years. The First Australians make up the world's oldest continuous cultures but are not recognised in the Australian Constitution.
It is important for all Australians to cherish our unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and recognise the contribution made to our national identity.