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Commitment to reconciliation

Commitment to reconciliation

Commitment to reconciliation

4 December 2020

The Salvation Army has launched its first national Reconciliation Action Plan.

By Lauren Martin

The Salvation Army has unveiled its first national Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) during an Australia-wide web launch, which included participation from each division of the Australia Territory.

The RAP has been a year in the making, building on learnings from information gathered in approximately 100 yarning circles that involved officers, employees, volunteers and Salvationists. It has been guided by The Salvation Army’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ministry team and signed off by Reconciliation Australia, as well as The Salvation Army Board.

The RAP outlines several actions The Salvation Army commits to taking on its reconciliation journey.

Uncle Vince Ross, The Salvation Army National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council Convenor, said the RAP should be a document that inspires action: “Documents have a place, but unless we can get the relationship on a strong footing, those words mean little.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a strong sense of relationships and of coming together. Reconciliation is not something that one person decides to do, it is done with others; it is a continuous journey that requires commitment and effort by all parties.”

During the ceremony, Uncle Vince was awarded The Salvation Army's highest honour, the Order of the Founder, for his ongoing work and committment to reconciliation.

"All the work I’ve been involved with over the years, it’s not about whether you get a prize or whether you get some acknowledgement," he said afterwards. "But that [the award] just about blew me over, I’ve gotta tell ya! I’m thankful for that and for that recognition that The Salvation Army has placed on us, and I’ll certainly value and treasure that."

The Reconciliation Action Plan outlines several actions The Salvation Army commits to taking, in the areas of truth-telling; social justice and advocacy; cultural immersion experiences; returning of artefacts; and Christmas Cheer.

Some of the actions include committing to ensuring current and future officers be given the opportunity to gain a lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by taking part in a cultural immersion experience.

Others are centred around increasing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in The Salvation Army, including creating opportunities for employment and career development and representation in divisional and territorial forums and conferences.

The Salvation Army has committed to ensuring its personnel across Australia have the cultural capacity to create safe spaces for Indigenous peoples, and for reconciliation to be a continuous journey.

Commissioner Robert Donaldson, Territorial Commander, encouraged all leaders to “reach out to local Indigenous communities to open pathways for dialogue. Each of us has a part to play in this important process of reconciliation. Together we seek God’s direction and blessing as we move forward in reconciliation, relationship-building and engagement.”

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