Telstra today launched a new three-year Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), with wide ranging initiatives to improve connectivity, cultural awareness in its organisation, employment and procurement opportunities.
This is Telstra’s fifth RAP, building on its history of connection with Australia’s First Nations communities and its ongoing journey towards reconciliation.
The RAP comes after Telstra agreed to pay a $50 million penalty and provide an Undertaking to the ACCC as a result of a small number of its licensee stores engaging in unconscionable sales practices towards 108 First Nations customers. This led Reconciliation Australia to revoke Telstra’s previous Elevate RAP.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the organisation continued efforts to rebuild trust and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities across Australia.
“It has been 18 months since Telstra has had a Reconciliation Action Plan and today is an important step in putting things right,” Mr Penn said.
“Reconciliation Australia’s decision to revoke our Elevate RAP status was the right decision, though it was a deeply disappointing moment for me.
“As a leading Australian business with strong ties with First Nations peoples, it was a low point in meeting our obligations to our customers and society more broadly. I am a firm believer that all companies are defined by how they respond when things go wrong.
“I would like to personally thank all those who have helped us to get to this point.”
Speaking at the launch of Telstra’s RAP in Darwin today, CEO of Reconciliation Australia Karen Mundine said it marked an important next step on Telstra’s reconciliation journey.
“The value of the RAP program is that all RAPs are tailored to partners’ individual circumstances, needs and areas of expertise. In Telstra’s case, this Stretch RAP is tailored to where it is now on its reconciliation journey: at a moment of deep remorse and contrition, but also of reflection, awareness and hope. By taking ownership and accountability for its actions, and by taking the time to understand the profound ramifications of its mistakes, Telstra has paved the way for this Stretch RAP.
“The past few years have taught us that out of crisis comes the opportunity to build something better, and that is what Telstra is looking to achieve. It is taking its newfound awareness of the pitfalls of disconnecting from its commitments, and returning to its foundations, so that reconciliation is securely embedded throughout its operations.”
Telstra’s Stretch RAP contains over 90 actions including targets of 1.5 per cent of employees being First Nations Australians, $15 million per year being spent with First Nations suppliers, and making 150 remote community visits during this financial year.
It also commits Telstra to actions on Truth Telling, supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart, significant investments in connectivity infrastructure, a range of new and ongoing digital inclusion programs, new training and employment programs, plus community sponsorships.
“We are very thankful to have worked with Reconciliation Australia to get to this point. Telstra remains very committed to play a leading role in the process of reconciliation and believe we have taken some important steps with our new RAP,” Mr Penn said.