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Coates unveils “INNOVATE” Reconciliation Action Plan

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In collaboration with Reconciliation Australia, Coates, Australia’s leading equipment hire and solutions provider, has unveiled its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – Innovate RAP.

The Innovate RAP commences this month and will focus on developing and strengthening relationships with First Nations peoples, engaging Coates’ employees and stakeholders in reconciliation, and developing and trialling strategies that empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Prior to developing the Innovate RAP, Coates consulted with Reconciliation Australia as well as its key external partners including the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce in Victoria and the Noongar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Western Australia, the Clontarf Foundation and their own internal RAP committee.

“Reconciliation is a journey for all of us as Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation,” said Murray Vitlich, CEO, Coates. “At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

INNOVATE RAP TO FOSTER INCLUSION, REPRESENTATION AND EDUCATION

The Innovate RAP details a number of initiatives the company will undertake, focusing on three key areas:

  • Cultural education aimed at improving the cultural competency across the organisation. Coates aims to provide formal cultural awareness training to over 90 per cent of the workforce by 2024.
  •  Increasing employee representation of First Nations people within Coates, with a target participation rate of 10 per cent of apprentices to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and a 2.5 per cent employee overall participation rate – both by 2025.
  • Increasing Coates’ First Nations supplier pool, as well as supporting new Indigenous enterprises by targeting specific business categories. Coates has committed to achieving business procurement targets of five per cent of non-capital annual spend across three business categories by 2024.

“Our vision for reconciliation is simple: by implementing all of the Innovate RAP key actions, we will build an organisation that advocates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, and respects traditional lands and Owners,” said Vitlich. “We will increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee representation to reflect our communities. We will provide more opportunities for First Nations businesses and help those enterprises create meaningful opportunities in the communities where we co-exist. Underpinning it all, we will be an inclusive organisation that embraces people from all walks of life regardless of their backgrounds.”

CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO RECONCILIATION

The Innovate RAP follows on from the success of Coates’ Reflect RAP, unveiled in 2020. Since then, Coates has increased its employee participation rate by over 200 per cent, with 34 employees currently identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are proud of the achievements of our Reflect RAP and what we have learned from these rich experiences; however we must continue to challenge ourselves to do more to build stronger relationships with our local First Nations communities and employees in the coming years,” said Vitlich. “Together, we will continue to drive many initiatives nationally, focused on relationship building and improving cultural and historical awareness for all employees.”

As part of the unveiling of its first RAP, the company announced a three-year partnership with The Clontarf Foundation. The Clontarf Foundation is a national not-for-profit organisation that exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and equips them to participate more meaningfully in society. The partnership ensures Coates will cover the associated costs for 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men to participate in the Clontarf program.

“Since the commencement of the Clontarf partnership, we have activated a range of interactions both at Clontarf Academies as well as at Coates branches” said Vitlich. “Our employees have attended early morning training sessions, been participants and volunteers at football and cricket carnivals, conducted employment forums as well as attending end of year Clontarf award nights.

“In addition, we’ve placed five young men from Clontarf into Coates roles, which shows just how valuable this relationship is and will be as more people within our organisation engage with the Clontarf Academies. This really speaks to what we want to achieve in our reconciliation journey, which is to create opportunities and employment pathways, as this has a flow-on effect for whole communities.”

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