Australian Rugby Union today reinforced its commitment to supporting and promoting reconciliation in Australia by unveiling its maiden Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Announced as part of National Reconciliation Week, the RAP has been developed in close consultation with The Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (LMRDT) and Reconciliation Australia.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver congratulated all involved in delivering Rugby’s first Reconciliation Action Plan.
“This is a great milestone in our game’s history,” Mr Pulver said.
“For more than 20 years Australian Rugby and the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team have worked together and developed a strong working relationship.
“The RAP is a testament to that relationship and the result of many years of hard work and dedication by both organisations.
“Developing this Plan is important for a number of reasons; most significantly we recognise that sport can be used to remove barriers and create genuine opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians that will assist in helping to close the gap.
“The creation of Rugby’s first RAP and our Indigenous Rugby Plan, which has been in place for a number of years, are two key cornerstones in our commitment to furthering Indigenous Rugby participation in Australia.
“On behalf of ARU I sincerely thank Reconciliation Australia and the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team for their support in helping us develop our Reconciliation Action Plan.”
In 2011 after extensive collaboration between ARU and the Lloyd McDermott Foundation the Indigenous Rugby Plan 2012-2016 was completed and approved by the Board of Directors of both organisations.
Following the delivery of the Indigenous Rugby Plan work began on developing a RAP to highlight ARU’s commitment to engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to participate in Rugby and to use Rugby as a tool for providing employment opportunities, delivery of health messages and to offer a whole of community approach in the delivery of its Rugby programs.
Former Indigenous Wallaby and founder of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, Lloyd McDermott, welcomed ARU’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“The delivery of the RAP provides a clear policy statement about how ARU intends to develop its position with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” Mr McDermott said.
“The RAP is a commitment from Australian Rugby to take ownership of its role in delivering reconciliation within the Australian community.
“I see the involvement of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sons and daughters in Rugby as an investment in their futures and an avenue to develop leaders of tomorrow.
“This RAP, along with the Indigenous Rugby Plan, shows to those within and outside the sport that Rugby is serious about investing in the game and is making a clear statement about the investment in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”
Chairman of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team Board, Gary Ella thanked ARU and Reconciliation Australia for their work in delivering the game’s first RAP.
“Over the past two years there has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken by ARU, Reconciliation Australia and The Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team,” Mr Ella said.
“Throughout the whole process the level of cooperation and consultation has been excellent and this has helped deliver a wonderful document that will provide great direction for the game.
“Whilst the LMRDT has been working with the ARU and member Unions for over 20 years, this RAP, along with the Indigenous Rugby Plan, helps to cement the relationship and give both organisations common goals and objectives to work towards.
“On behalf of the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team Board I want to sincerely thank ARU and Reconciliation Australia for their work and commitment.”
Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong said relationships and trust go hand in hand and no one knows this better than Rugby players.
“Rugby has a unique role to play in improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – particularly in the areas of education, employment and training.
“Through the new RAP, ARU not only recognises these essential areas but also that reconciliation is about changing attitudes, building relationships and creating environments where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel welcome, supported and respected,” Ms Armstrong said.