Reconciliation action plan

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1 Reconciliation action plan

2 COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA 2010 This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney General s Department, 3 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted at PUBLISHED BY Australian Taxation Office Canberra July 2010 JS 16038

3 Commissioner s message I am pleased to present the Australian Taxation Office s (ATO s) refreshed Reconciliation action plan (RAP). This RAP builds on the achievements of the first, reflects our Taxpayers Charter and continues on our path of building reconciliation at an organisational level. In 2010, the ATO is celebrating its centenary year. We are using this as an opportunity to reflect on the past, and the initiative and endeavour that has brought us to the position of a world leader in tax and superannuation administration, whilst laying the foundations of our future. Our past successes have included our willingness to embrace change; to be responsive and innovative; and to anticipate the needs of the entire Australian community. We see our RAP as a plan that is for the present and the future, to ensure we recognise the importance of building and maintaining relationships with Indigenous Australians to better understand and meet their needs and encourage their participation in the tax system. It is a practical commitment to build on past initiatives. We will be accountable against our three key commitment areas: employment and career development, providing assistance to Indigenous Australians, and cultural awareness and education. Committing to timeframes and sharing responsibility for implementation across the ATO will be the foundations for achieving sustainable positive long-term results. The RAP will help to build trust, effective relationships, and a sense of belonging for all Australians. It will make progress along this path by providing employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians, continuing to improve the level of support and assistance we provide to Indigenous Australians, and by recognising and respecting the culture of Indigenous Australians. We look forward to the next steps on our reconciliation journey and our continued efforts to contribute within our small sphere of influence towards an Australia where Indigenous Australians have the same life expectancy as non-indigenous Australians. Michael D Ascenzo, AO Commissioner of Taxation Registrar of the Australian Business Register Reconciliation action plan

4 Introduction The Reconciliation Australia National Program of Action was launched in July 2006 to turn good intentions into measurable action. This program encourages and supports organisations, both large and small, to engage within their sphere of influence and develop individual action plans in a national effort to close the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and other Australians. A Reconciliation Action Plan provides an organisation with a framework for the future, detailing steps and priorities to achieve Indigenous equality. This framework covers the activities that are known to make a difference: n building good relationships n respecting the special contribution of Indigenous Australians to Australia n ensuring Indigenous children have the same life opportunities as other children. The ATO formally joined this program of action in December 2007 when our initial RAP was launched. This refreshed ATO RAP represents our ongoing commitment to the national program of action. 2 Reconciliation action plan

5 OUR RECONCILIATION ACTION PLAN Our vision for Reconciliation The ATO s vision for reconciliation is to ensure Indigenous Australians are valued and respected, so they have the same opportunities as other Australians to make informed decisions in managing their tax and superannuation affairs. Our business The ATO plays a key role in helping to build a better Australia, administering most of Australia s federal revenue laws and significant aspects of the government s retirement income policy. Our focus is to help the community in practical ways to understand their rights and meet their taxation obligations or to receive benefits, as well as protecting them against those that abuse these systems. By doing our job well, we contribute to the wellbeing of all Australians. This means there are business and social reasons for ATO employees to better understand, assist and meet the needs of Indigenous Australians. The ATO is committed to advancing reconciliation through this Reconciliation Action Plan and is focussing on three areas where we can make meaningful and sustained change: n Providing employment and career development opportunities to Indigenous Australians to assist the Indigenous community with their economic wellbeing n Developing policies, programs, and services that make it easier for the Indigenous communities and individuals to access the ATO n Increasing the cultural capacity of the ATO to build respect and understanding of Indigenous cultures. Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) This refreshed ATO Reconciliation Action Plan builds on the success of our initial RAP. It has been developed in consultation with all staff (both Indigenous and non Indigenous) to ensure it is aligned with our employees expectations, business intent and the expectations of the community we serve. Feedback provided during the consultation process was either incorporated into the final plan or will become part of other ATO strategies and guidelines. This RAP is a living document that will change over time and be regularly reviewed. We will use the RAP as a set of guiding principles which will direct our actions and incorporate best practice, qualitative and quantitative data, and innovative to generate sustained improvements. It is intended that elements of this RAP are incorporated into and become a central deliverable of individual business plans across the organisation. The RAP is sponsored by the First Assistant Commissioner and overseen by a working group. The working group will be comprised of Indigenous and non-indigenous staff from across the organisation and meet four times each year. Reconciliation action plan

6 Alignment with our Strategic Statement and ATO Values The actions the ATO commits to in the Reconciliation Action Plan align with both our Strategic statement and our ATO Values. The strategic themes from our Strategic Statement that shape the way the ATO works with Government and the Community will also shape the way the ATO will deliver on the commitments in this Reconciliation Action Plan. Encourage People support and understand the benefits of participation they are engaged and willingly participate. Support People are helped and assisted to understand their rights and responsibilities and are able to fulfil their obligations easily at minimal cost. Protect Protecting people and the community by deterring, detecting and dealing with those who have not complied. Enhance We are passionate about improving our capabilities to be more innovative, agile and responsive to challenges and opportunities. Champion We champion the interests of both individual taxpayers and the community, advising government on ways to improve the operation of Australia s tax and superannuation systems. The ATO Values are embedded in everything we do. Our values will be demonstrated as we deliver on the actions of our Reconciliation Action Plan. Our values are: n Being fair and professional n Applying the rule of the law n Supporting taxpayers to do the right thing and being fair but firm with those that don t n Being consultative, collaborative and willing to co-design n Being open and accountable n Being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Our RAP journey so far This refreshed Reconciliation Action Plan builds on the solid foundations achieved through the delivery on commitments in our first RAP, launched in The ATO has successfully implemented 9 of 11 actions. These were our achievements: Employment, career development, and access n The QLD School to Work sponsorship scheme continued to be a success with strong support from sites in Townsville and Brisbane to provide mentors and work experience for Indigenous students. Participating students found the sponsorship benefits their development and assists them to complete their secondary education and go onto a career of their choice. n Readership of the Yarn Time newsletter continued to grow amongst Indigenous and non-indigenous tax officers, and was the most effective method of promoting the development and the success stories of our Indigenous initiatives. n The establishment of two Indigenous specific entry-level employment programs provided a clear pathway into the ATO for Indigenous job-seekers. The Cadetship and Entry-Level Traineeship programs where well received by business lines with demand for cadets and trainees exceeding the number of suitable candidates that could be secured for employment. Providing assistance to Indigenous Australians n The number of Indigenous organised events/festivals attended by the ATO increased each year, with Indigenous officers always invited to attend. n More than 2,300 Indigenous people accessed our Tax Help program with training provided to volunteers in the Indigenous communities of Galiwinku, Elcho Island, Tennant Creek and Moogji. n The National Aboriginal and Islander Resource Centre received around 20,000 enquires from Indigenous Australians about their tax affairs and processed around 8,000 tax file number applications for Indigenous people each year. n An overarching Indigenous strategy that provided an integrated approach for engaging Indigenous Australians in the tax system was developed. Cultural Awareness and Education n The development and rollout of an ATO-specific cultural awareness training package was well received with participants able to apply learning s in their day-to-day roles. n The number of NAIDOC Week celebrations held across the ATO increased during each year during the life of the RAP with greater involvement of local Indigenous community members. n A special edition of News Extra was published which enable all staff to watch the National apology to the Stolen Generations. n Acknowledgements to traditional custodians and an understanding of the importance of performing this practice improved during the life of the plan. On the strengths of our achievements so far, our refreshed RAP challenges us to continue the journey. 4 Reconciliation action plan

7 RELATIONSHIPS The ATO recognises the importance of, and will work towards, building and maintaining respectful relationships with Indigenous Australians to enable us to better understand, assist and meet their needs and encourage their participation in the tax system. FOCUS AREA: Providing assistance to Indigenous Australians Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target Provide Indigenous Australians with tailored products, tools and services that make it easier for them to understand and meet their tax obligations. All areas of the ATO Commencing July 2010 All Business Line communication strategies for developing products, tools, and services to address the needs of Indigenous Australians. All existing products, tools and services are reviewed to ensure appropriateness for Indigenous audiences. All new products, tools and services are developed in consideration of Indigenous audiences. June each year The Indigenous Coordinator 1 provides assurance that products, tools and services are culturally appropriate. This action aligns with our strategic statement themes of Encourage and Support. This action will be supported by our values of being fair and professional and supporting taxpayers who want to do the right thing and being fair but firm with those that don t. 1 The Indigenous Coordinator ensures that the ATO develops and maintains a whole of ATO perspective when dealing with Indigenous issues and concerns. Continue to build confidence in the ATO throughout Indigenous communities by increasing our presence at Indigenous organised festivals/events. Corporate Relations Commencing July 2010 Participate in a minimum of 4 Indigenous organised events for each year of the plan. Partner with other Government agencies to deliver ATO information and services to Indigenous audiences. This action aligns with our strategic statement themes of Encourage and Support. This action will be supported by our value of being open and accountable. Develop a repository for all ATO research and intelligence about Indigenous audiences. Corporate Relations December 2010 Database established and available for use by all ATO staff. This action aligns with our strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Establish an Indigenous Consultative Body comprised of ATO Indigenous staff to provide advice and assistance on Indigenous matters. November 2010 Indigenous Consultative Body established. Indigenous Consultative Body meets on a quarterly basis. This action aligns with our strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our values of being consultative, collaborative and willing to co-design, being open and accountable, and being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Taking the time to build respectful working relationships with Indigenous people is not only personally rewarding but it helps to builds trust and understanding of the role of the ATO, which leads to greater engagement in the tax system. Justin Neave National Aboriginal Islander Resource Centre Reconciliation action plan

8 RESPECT Our staff are aware of, respect, acknowledge, and celebrate Indigenous cultures which assists us to build relationships and provide culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Australians. FOCUS AREA: Cultural Awareness and Education Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target Develop a policy on cultural awareness training as part of the Indigenous Employment and Development Strategy to ensure: n elements of Cultural Awareness training are incorporated into appropriate ATO Corporate training programs n a network of trained Indigenous staff who can deliver training is established, and n an on-line Cultural Awareness Training package to complement face-to-face training is developed. July 2010 December 2011 June 2013 All ATO employees whose roles directly deliver services to Indigenous people undertake face to face Cultural Awareness Training. Managers and teams with Indigenous employees participate in Cultural Awareness Training. Corporate training programs contain content from ATO cultural awareness training package. At least 5 Indigenous staff are trained in the delivery of Cultural Awareness training. 100 sessions of Cultural Awareness training are delivered. 2,000 ATO staff have attended Cultural Awareness training. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being fair and professional. All products targeting Indigenous audiences are consistently themed in a culturally appropriate manner. and Corporate Relations April 2011 Design for Indigenous specific products developed and applied to all new products for Indigenous taxpayers and potential Indigenous employees. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Support. This action will be supported by our value of being fair and professional. Promote, raise awareness and share RAP achievements, through a whole of ATO publication. and Corporate Relations December and June each year Two editions of RAP newsletter published each year. RAP newsletter published on ato.gov.au This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Promote and celebrate key Indigenous events, such as participation in NAIDOC week. All areas of the ATO May and July each year News Extra articles and editions of Yarn Time newsletter published during Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week. July each year ATO National NAIDOC week event held in National Host city annually. July each year Recommit to our Reconciliation Action Plan by releasing our RAP annual review and celebrating our achievements. July each year 90% of ATO sites celebrate NAIDOC week and invite a representative from the local Indigenous Community. This action aligns with the strategic statement themes of Encourage, Enhance and Champion. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. 6 Reconciliation action plan

9 FOCUS AREA: Cultural Awareness and Education (continued) Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target New ATO buildings have names reflective of the local Indigenous community. ATO Finance January 2012 to June 2013 All new buildings commissioned during life of the RAP (5 planned) are named in partnership with local traditional custodians. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Champion. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land at public ATO events. All areas of the ATO Commencing July 2010 Acknowledgements are performed by ATO representatives. September 2010 Embed appropriate acknowledgement at ATO events through inclusion of protocols in ATO events kits. This action aligns with the strategic statement themes of Enhance and Champion. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Attending cultural awareness training increased my understanding and knowledge of Indigenous people and issues. It provided me with insights and practical tools that helped me become a better mentor of my Indigenous student Melinda Roubicek School to Work mentor Reconciliation action plan

10 OPPORTUNITIES Providing employment opportunities to Indigenous Australians enables the ATO to develop a greater understanding of Indigenous people and cultures whilst building the diversity of our organisation. FOCUS AREA: Employment and Career Development Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target Increase the representation of Indigenous Australians in the ATO by offering: n School Based Traineeships n Entry level Traineeships n Indigenous Cadetships n Indigenous Graduate Programs n Mainstream recruitment. Commencing July 2010 Increases in Indigenous officer representation during each year of the RAP working towards a target of 2.7% by By the end of this RAP we expect our representation level to increase from 0.6% to 1%. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Develop a new Indigenous Employment Strategy to guide successful delivery of RAP employment objectives including: n Developing an Indigenous Employment Proposition to determine employment values of current and potential Indigenous staff. n Undertaking attrition analysis to inform our Indigenous recruitment and retention strategies. n Reviewing all ATO Indigenous employment programs in partnership with existing and potential Indigenous employees. n Reviewing ATO leadership and career development training packages to ensure they meet the needs of Indigenous staff. December 2010 December each year June 2011 March each year March each year Commencing July 2010 Indigenous Employment Strategy is launched. Strategy targets are met and formally reported against. Indigenous Employment Proposition undertaken. Attrition analysis undertaken annually and results incorporated into recruitment and career development programs. All Indigenous employment programs are reviewed annually. Results from ATO Indigenous employees in APS Indigenous Employee Census, ATO Diversity Census, and ATO Engagement surveys reflect the needs of Indigenous employees have been met. Indigenous specific development programs are offered if the needs of Indigenous staff are not met through broader ATO training packages. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Roles interfacing with Indigenous communities are performed by employees possessing relevant cultural understanding and the ability to communicate with these communities. December 2010 Develop a policy on identified positions. Recruitment Corporate Management Practice Statement reflects the need to consider inherent requirements of the position against identified position criteria. All advertised positions are considered against identified position criteria. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. 8 Reconciliation action plan

11 FOCUS AREA: Employment and Career Development (continued) Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target Promote the ATO Alumni to departing Indigenous employees. December and June each year Alumni members receive RAP Newsletter. Commencing July 2010 All exiting Indigenous employees are encouraged to join the ATO Alumni. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. Participate in all APSC and inter agency Indigenous recruitment and development programs including Pathways, Career Trek, and Indigenous Employees Conferences. with input from all areas of the ATO Commencing July 2010 ATO participates in a minimum of 3 APSC and inter-agency Indigenous development programs each year. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. The ATO will provide opportunities for Indigenous employees within the APS to experience the ATO, and support Indigenous employees within the ATO to explore opportunities across the APS, to enhance their careers. December 2011 December 2011 Participation in APSC programs. Development of an ATO Indigenous Mobility Strategy. This action aligns with the strategic statement theme of Enhance. This action will be supported by our value of being responsive to challenges and opportunities. The Indigenous Entry-Level traineeship program provided me the solid foundation I needed to build a successful career. The support and guidance I have received has kept me focussed and driven to succeed. Aaron Haynes Indigenous trainee TRACKING PROGRESS AND REPORTING Action Responsibility Timeline Measurable Target Bi-annual internal report of activity and achievements against RAP commitments. December and June each year Review is undertaken and report tabled with appropriate internal committees 2. Annual review of RAP activity and achievements and the refresh of RAP. June each year Review is undertaken in collaboration with Reconciliation Australia, report tabled with appropriate internal committees, and published on Reconciliation Australia website and ato.gov.au July each year Detailed activity plan is developed for the year ahead. Quarterly progress report of activity and achievement against RAP commitments undertaken for RAP sponsor. September and March each year Report provided to RAP Sponsor. 2 Internal committees include the Corporate Support and Law Sub-plan Executive, the People System Sub-committee and the ATO Diversity Council. Reconciliation action plan

12 DAVID DIMENT RAP Sponsor and First Assistant Commissioner, David Diment, is pleased with the ATO s contribution to the National Program of Action. The ATO made some great achievements with our initial RAP. This plan will ensure we maintain this good work and act on the lessons we have learnt. It will continue to enhance the broader relationships the ATO has with Indigenous Australians while building our own organisational capacity. Once again we have set ambitious and achievable goals, with real targets which will be used as a measure of our accountability, transparency and progress. Resetting and reviewing these goals ensures we keep asking ourselves what else could we be doing for Indigenous Australians or how could we do it better. David believes the RAP represents a win-win, both for Indigenous Australians and for the business outcomes of the ATO. We can use the RAP to develop our internal knowledge, cultural awareness and skills in engaging with Indigenous people. This will provide the ATO with great insight into the kinds of products and services that are needed in communities to generate real, long lasting results over the long term. It will help us to build respectful, two way learning relationships with Indigenous Australians. 10 Reconciliation action plan

13 Profiles PHIL AHMAT Phil is the ATO s Indigenous Liaison Officer and is descended from a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family in the Northern Territory. Joining the ATO in 2007, and working with the former Indigenous Liaison Officer Jason Orchard, Phil has seen first hand the benefits the actions in the ATO s first RAP have brought to both the ATO and Indigenous people. It has been an essential part of our efforts to not only increase the number of Indigenous Australians employed by the ATO but to create a workplace environment that s welcoming and maximises their chances of success. Phil is particularly proud of the role he played in designing, coordinating, and facilitating an ATO-specific cultural awareness training package. Delivering cultural awareness training gives me and my Indigenous colleagues an opportunity to share our background, cultures, and personal stories with our non Indigenous colleagues. It also helps tax officers to better understand and meet the needs of Indigenous Australians. Looking forward, Phil is excited by the future benefits this refreshed RAP can deliver, particularly as it is so strongly championed across the ATO. The ATO RAP is well balanced because it commits to actions in the three fundamental areas of reconciliation relationships, respect, and opportunities. We want to make the ATO more accessible for Indigenous Australians by creating tailored products that make it easier for them to understand their tax obligations whilst building a workforce that is more understanding of Indigenous peoples specific needs. Our ability to do this will be greatly enhanced by providing opportunities to Indigenous Australians and increasing our number of Indigenous employees. Reconciliation action plan

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