Department of Water and Environmental Regulation launches new Reconciliation Action Plan

Media release
Today, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation launches its second Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2022–24.
Photo of Minister Kelly, DWER Director General Michelle Andrews and others at launch of 2022 reconciliation action plan

This plan builds on the outcomes already achieved in the first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that was launched in 2019.

The Innovate RAP 2022–24 was developed in consultation with key stakeholders and working groups and aims to strengthen partnerships, collaboration, and understanding to empower First Nations peoples and communities in the management of Western Australia’s water resources and environment.

The new plan has 13 actions that will focus on creating a shared responsibility for water and the environment, demonstrating a commitment to creating a diverse and culturally safe workplace and increasing the representation of First Nations people employed in the department.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Director General, Michelle Andrews said we all have a role to play in our reconciliation journey, together we can build capacity and diversity in our workforce.

“The launch of this new RAP comes at a time when we as a department have recently launched our Strategic Plan and Future Directions Statement. In the Strategic Plan we outline our priority in building and establishing systems for capturing and responding to Aboriginal knowledge in decision-making.

“Through the development of these plans, we identified the need to strengthen our partnerships and collaborations with the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live.”

The department's RAP focuses on key principals of the Uluru Statement and the five dimensions of reconciliation – unity, race relations, historical acceptance, institutional integrity, equality, and equity. The key outcomes of the plan are to build and strengthen the department's relationship and engagement with First Nations peoples, organisations and corporations and communities.

Focusing on this will help the department to become a more culturally safe and inclusive workplace and foster a shared understanding of the progress that needs to be made.

“Traditional Owners have been caring for this land for more than 65,000 years and they have a deep understanding and knowledge of how to care for Country. We need to work together to develop innovative solutions when managing the water and environment in Western Australia,” Ms Andrews said.

“As a department one of our values is ‘better together’, this will be at the core of our work with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners.”

In the last plan, the department established the Aboriginal Water and Environmental Advisory Group, developed and released the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy and implemented Strategic Aboriginal Reserves for WA for the first time through the Yamatji Nations Settlement agreement. In the same plan, the department also commissioned Whadjuk Noongar Aboriginal artist Sharyn Egan to create an artwork in head office, as well as launched the Woola Awards and developed the department's first internal Aboriginal Engagement Strategy.

Reflecting on the reconciliation journey, we continue to learn from these experiences, growing and exploring ways to further embed reconciliation principles in water and environmental management.

The department’s new RAP reflects the Government of Western Australia’s priority areas of the Jurisdictional Implementation Plan on Closing the Gap and the key priority reform area outcomes. It also reflects the Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy (WA 2021-2029), that aims to strengthen relationships and increase representation of First Nations people in the department's workforce with career pathways while contributing to the social, cultural, spiritual and economic wellbeing of First Nations people.

Read the new Reconciliation Action Plan.

Page reviewed 20 September 2022