Aqwest launches first Reconciliation Action Plan

Reconciliation: Mariah Yarran created "Living Water" artwork which depicts a story about water and its connection to the land on which Aqwest operates. Picture: supplied

Reconciliation: Mariah Yarran created "Living Water" artwork which depicts a story about water and its connection to the land on which Aqwest operates. Picture: supplied

A BUNBURY water company has launched a plan focused on developing the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are both engaged in the business and celebrating their cultural connections to water.

As announced by the Minister for Water, Dave Kelly MLA on March 4, Aqwest, the official trading name of the Bunbury corporation, has launched it's first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

The plan is guided by the principals of sharing custodianship of water, community, land, flora and fauna, building connections in the community and culture, and empowering community through activities which foster progress towards reconciliation.

It also aims to increase the cultural competence of the workforce, as well as support cultural events within the Greater Bunbury community.

Aqwest's reconciliation journey began in 2019 with initiatives including cultural awareness training for staff, before a Reconciliation Action Plan working group was launched in 2020.

Aqwest general manager of business services Claire Anderson said the group looked at what role Aqwest could play in reconciliation.

"We wanted to know what projects we could commit to and develop to help get there," Ms Anderson said.

"One of our actions is to work with other like-minded organisations such as the City of Bunbury, and bring everyone together.

"This plan is a really important thing for everyone to focus on in that it's an opportunity for us all to learn from our Elders and other community members about the cultural connections to water, and what important steps we can take to learn and share."

Aqwest is a public water utility owned by the people of Western Australia and has been providing drinking water to the Bunbury community since 1906.

Local Aboriginal Elders at the launch of the Ngoora Moolinap Water Treatment Plant in September 2020. Picture: supplied

Local Aboriginal Elders at the launch of the Ngoora Moolinap Water Treatment Plant in September 2020. Picture: supplied

Board director and RAP champion Rhonda Norman said the journey had been "very exciting" for her as a proud, Noongar Wilman woman.

"This is the start of journey of the road Aqwest is going down," Ms Norman said.

"And with the creation of the Reconciliation Action Plan - it's really exciting for me to be a part of this whole project - the learning and the journey we've been travelling has been amazing."

Committed to reconciliation and exposure for Aboriginal culture, Aqwest's office in East Bunbury now has a water wise garden filled with native Noongar plants from the South West.

Members of the community are encouraged to visit the garden and scan the QR codes to learn more about the fauna and how to incorporate the plants into their own gardens.

To view Aqwest's Reconciliation Action Plan, visit https://aqwest.com.au/about-aqwest/reconciliation-action-plan.