Acknowledgement and thank you
Bank Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which our business is based, in particular the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and the Gurnai Kurnai people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which most of our staff live and work. We pay our respects to Traditional Owners past, present and emerging and particularly acknowledge the valuable contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations provided in creating our fourth Reconciliation Action Plan.
Our RAP Journey
In 2010 Bank Australia became the first customer owned bank in Australia to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). We are now in the tenth year of our RAP journey. Our focus over the past years has been taking action to improve cultural awareness, build capacity and empower individuals through traineeships and community leadership programs.
Some of our achievements include:
Community Leadership Program
We’ve provided Community Leadership Program scholarships to emerging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander leaders to increase their leadership skills and knowledge so they can grow their positive impact in the community. So far we have supported 20 emerging leaders from across Victoria and one in Adelaide. In 2016 we formed an alumni group to help support these emerging leaders after they have completed the program.
We have provided training and employment opportunities for 14 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people through our traineeship program, and currently have two Aboriginal staff members employed at Bank Australia.
Acknowledgement of Country
All our branch locations have had an Acknowledgement of Country added to the entrance to the building to show respect to the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work and do business.
Since the launch of the Bank Australia Impact Fund Customer Grants in 2016, we have awarded 35 grants to customer organisations, two of which have been for reconciliation totaling $20,000.
Cultural heritage survey on our Conservation Reserve
In 2017, we worked with the BLGC to identify and register sites of cultural significance across our 927 hectare reserve. BGLC has the legislative authority to make legal decisions about cultural heritage. We’re proud to be the first business to voluntarily engage BGLC for a cultural heritage survey.
The sites identified included a number of scar trees, a canoe tree and a significant women’s area.
We can now take steps to protect these sites. Some steps may include banning cars from significant areas and prioritising restoration to improve the health of significant trees.
Indigenous Land Management and our Conservation Reserve
Indigenous Land Management has maintained Australia for tens of thousands of years. This knowledge is essential to addressing the climate crisis on our reserve and across Australia, and is valuable for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working with plants, animals and the ecosystems.
We’re working with BGLC and the CFA to support Traditional Owners to use cultural burning practices on the reserve, an activity performed by Indigenous peoples across Australia before colonisation. A Traditional Burn is a cool, low intensity burn that’s closely managed. One purpose is to gently remove fire risk to decrease the likelihood and severity of bushfires. Traditionally, cool burns also aided hunting.
It’s also an important cultural practice for Traditional Owners and Elders, as well as a way to rebuild this knowledge which was prevented from being passed down by Colonisation.
“We hadn’t had that transfer of knowledge about fire, so we had to build it up” Damien Skurrie, Parks Vic
What’s involved in a Traditional Burn?
This involves a lot of planning to ensure the crew and the area are prepared correctly. The weather conditions are also essential - wind and temperature, both on the day and the days after the burn, must be right to keep the fire under control.
In late 2019, the CFA and BGLC worked with Parks Vic to prepare for the first cultural burn at the reserve in a long time, likely since colonisation. The conditions weren’t right on the day to do the full Traditional Burn, so instead we did a small test burn and are planning to try again in August 2020.
Looking forward, we’re planning for about half of our planned burns for fire risk management to use traditional methods, unlocking cultural and ecological benefits side by side.
Here are 3 of our 94 targets