The St Vincent de Paul Society NSW completed its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in financial year 2020/21.

The first RAP covered the time from 2018 to 2020 and was an innovate RAP. 

There are four types of RAP: reflect, innovate, stretch, and elevate – each with their own requirements that need to be approved by Reconciliation Australia. 

Respectively, these four types are summarised as scoping, implementing, embedding, and leading reconciliation. 

The Society chose to begin at the innovate level, rather than reflect. 

Reflecting on the successes of our first RAP, some of the highlights include: 

  • The launch of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recruitment and Retention Strategy 
  • Creation of the Gan na Aboriginal Cultural Awareness program which has been made available to all employees, members and volunteers 
  • Realignment of our state-wide RAP Working Group  
  • Establishing the Society’s Community Advisory group – it is named Bulbulwul Baya (using the Darug word for strong voice)
  • Establishment of regional reconciliation working groups 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recruitment and Retention Strategy has planned objectives and milestones through to September of 2022, at which point it is planned for a new strategy to be developed for 2023 onwards. 

The Gan na cultural awareness program is a three-part series that aims to build awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. 

It focuses on the journey to recognition, respect, and reconciliation. 

Throughout the financial year, the Society consultated with people throughout the Society and developed our next Reconciliation Action Plan, covering 2021-23. 

The new Society RAP was submitted to Reconciliation Australia for approval in June 2021. 


Rob Cohen is our St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Aboriginal Engagement Partner and led the formulation and implementation of our second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Speaking about the RAP, he says, “The importance is that it shows that the Society is serious about reconciliation. It wants to support the process, build connections with community, and effectively just engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. I think it’s about supporting identity and supporting our people’s drive towards self-determination.” 

One of the most important outcomes of the 2018-2020 RAP, he says, was developing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recruitment and Retention Strategy. Employing more First Nation Peoples will build capacity and understanding across the Society. 

Delivering on the new RAP will be very much a team effort because there will be goals and deliverables with responsibilities designated throughout the Society. 

“I think the key goal is that everybody is aware, that everybody has an understanding. Ensuring that the RAP doesn’t become a shelf document, that it’s there as a guide that people can refer to. That there are key actions and deliverables in there that people can take away and apply to their actual workspace. And, I suppose, the key message there is that we’re not asking to change the way people work too much. All we’re asking is that our people give certain considerations to how we deal with communities and how we deal with Aboriginal organisations in general.”