A successful future for businesses in today’s commercial environment involves more than simply doing business. It’s about delivering on a purpose and improving the lives of everybody with whom the organisation comes in contact.
Interflow provides water services from the far north of Queensland to the Pilbara region in Western Australia, New Zealand, and the southern reaches of Tasmania.
One ingredient in the recipe for success is the organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). It’s a framework for knowledge, learning, processes, and initiatives that benefit everybody in and around the business.
Interflow is currently 18 months into the Reflect RAP journey, which helps shape how the organisation will engage with reconciliation.
But the RAP is so much more than that.
The three key focus areas for Interflow from a business perspective involve encouraging cultural respect, unlocking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent, and developing partnerships.
It wants to attract Indigenous people, better appreciate and understand Indigenous communities and further develop its supply chain.
Most importantly, Interflow knows it’s simply the right thing to do. The feedback it receives from its people is very positive and acknowledges that every business can play a role in reconciliation.
A RAP is a learning journey
Australia’s First Nations people are a part of the oldest continuing living culture in the world. The more stories Interflow hears about how they have interpreted and managed the land during their 65,000-year custodianship, the more it realises how much can be learned from that knowledge.
“There is a lot we can all learn from our First Nations people,” said Frank Phillips, Interflow’s Executive General Manager QLD/WA/NZ and RAP representative. “Governments are starting to step up, listen, and learn more. Some state governments, for example, are employing or consulting with Indigenous experts to understand how to practice better land management.”
“The connection we have is water. Water is essential to us as a business,” he said. “But we won’t sit back and say we’re experts and know everything. This RAP process so far has taught us that we need to take the time to listen to the feedback we’ve been getting from Indigenous people. If we listen, we’ll learn and constantly evolve.”
Initiatives connected to the Interflow RAP program include leadership cultural awareness sessions hosted by Wurundjeri Elder, Uncle Bill Nicholson Junior. Uncle Bill explained how the business’s projects could impact sacred lands and how Interflow can better engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and contractors.
Interflow has partnered with Supply Nation. So far, it has provided more than $1.5 million to businesses certified by the Indigenous business facilitator.
The business also partnered with majority-owned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business Indigenous Project Services Australia. The goal was to deliver a five-kilometre sewer reticulation pipeline on the Royal Australian Air Force base in Amaroo, Darwin.
A RAP brings pride and loyalty
One of the biggest responsibilities of the 20-strong RAP Working Group is to communicate the RAP’s purpose to the organisation and beyond, said Phillips.
“We’ve got a very eager working group,” he said. “We’ve found a rhythm and empowered everyone in the group to be champions for the RAP. We want to make sure the entire organisation really embraces it.”
The education that comes from exposure to the RAP program, knowledge around a culture that is so integral to the essence of what it is to be Australian, is highly valued by Interflow’s people, as it is by people within all businesses that are on the RAP journey.
Interflow is on a journey towards reconciliation. But it’s also about taking the opportunity to understand a vital culture and to bring others along on that journey. Many people across Interflow are coming forward and putting their hands up to be part of this. While the company knows it lacks expertise in this area, it intends to help and support people along that journey.
The value of the RAP process is quite personal and simple.
“To understand this better will make you a better person,” Phillips said. “It will make you more balanced and knowledgeable, and it will help you develop a much better understanding of a culture that is a part of our lives.”
Getting it right
Why is Interflow putting so much effort into getting the Reflect RAP process right? Because it matters, Phillips says. It matters that as many businesses as possible become a part of the solution to First Nation people being the most disadvantaged in Australia.
“This is not a tick-a-box for Interflow,” he said. “It fits within the bigger picture of our diversity and inclusion strategy from a people and capability perspective. At the same time, it makes real business sense. Hopefully, it will have a far broader and very positive effect. From our Board, Managing Director, and leadership team, we want to truly understand it, and our people are telling us they want to come along on the journey.”
As Interflow’s Reflect RAP document says, We aim to achieve the most sustainable outcomes for our customers and communities. We respect the land on which we operate and have led the development of world-class trenchless technologies that eliminate or reduce the need for excavation.
Our core values of Honesty, Respect, Reliability, and Competence underpin everything we do. Our values are the cornerstones of our success and are embedded in our DNA. They inform the way we do business with ourselves and others.
For more information, visit https://www.interflow.com.au/
- Developing local capability and expertise for the future
- Bringing drinking water fountains to Country at Knob Reserve
- Wetland Revival Trust hopes to buy Wirra-Lo