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Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

This plan is the first step in our Reconciliation journey to be a more purposeful organisation in creating and enabling social change.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this nation and the Traditional Custodians of the land where we live, learn and work.

We pay our respects to Elders past and present as it is their knowledge and experience that holds the key to the success of future generations.

Our vision for Reconciliation

Introducing Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

After reviewing our existing Reconciliation activity, we recognised that a central and coordinated approach integrated into our corporate strategy would provide greater focus and have a wider impact across the Group.

To us that means recognising, respecting, and understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures and strengthening our relationship with those communities right across Australia.

This document will further support us in understanding, exploring and measuring where and how we can have the most meaningful impact and lay firm foundations for Reconciliation across the Group in the years to come.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan 2023-2024 seeks to deliver on:

Corporate strategy

Our Reflect RAP forms part of our corporate strategy and will support us in understanding where we can make the biggest contribution to reconciliation.

Cultural competency

Increasing employees’ understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relations and cultures through education.

Cultural recognition

Creating a culture that respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, heritage, values and beliefs.

Relationships and partners

Strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders and organisations to collaborate on delivering beneficial outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, our customers and our business.

Growth and employment

We’re committed to increasing work opportunities that are culturally inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

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Meaning behind our RAP artwork
Meaning behind our RAP artwork

Our Reconciliation artwork

Our Reconciliation artwork - created by Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung artist and educator, Troy Firebrace, the style is reflective of the artworks found throughout Koori country.

The same country where our bank began.

It focuses on three elements of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank:

  • Community – the authentic connection the Bank is forming by learning about community and country
  • Impact – the result of good, honest hard work, focusing on relationships and quality service
  • Journey – the path of collective learning as a whole community
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Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan Launch
Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan Launch

Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan launch 

The launch of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan was held on Thursday 27 April 2023 at 2.30pm on the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung People. Marnie Baker, Managing Director, was joined by our special guest Cassandra Lewis, General Manager of Djaara. They explored what Reconciliation means for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, and the communities we live and work in.

Speaker - Richard Fennell:


A big thank you to St Kilian's Primary School choir for that wonderful introduction. Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the launch of our Reconciliation Action Plan. My name is Richard Fennell and I'm the Chief Customer Officer for consumer banking here at Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, and I'm also very proud to be the executive sponsor of our Reconciliation Action Plan.

I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Dja Dja Wurrung Peoples of the Kulin nation and pay my respects to their elders past and present. And I'd also like to pay my respects to any First Nations people that are joining us here in Bendigo today or online on the live stream. My pronouns are he and him. And for those of you who may be listing in and who are blind or vision impaired, I have brown hair, I'm wearing a dark blue suit with a white shirt. I'm incredibly proud to be here today and delighted that so many of you are also joining us here to celebrate this really important milestone. The Reconciliation Action Plan that we are launching today is an opportunity for all of us to reflect and learn as we build our understanding of the histories and cultures of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers, communities, and colleagues.

Personally, my journey of learning and reflection began some years ago with a period of immersion with the Yorta Yorta people a little north of where we stand here today. That journey of understanding continues and I look forward to the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank RAP being a vehicle for my continued personal growth and also for many of my colleagues here at the bank. This is only the start of what is a really important journey for us all at Bendigo & Adelaide Bank. I'd now like to introduce Djarra elder, Auntie Peta Hudson, who will lead our welcome to country and smoking ceremony. Thank you.

Speaker - Auntie Peta:

Good afternoon. So we've, for thousands of years we've had smoking ceremonies for different purposes and today to cleanse, to welcome and to cleanse our spirit. And I've used lemon scented gum and cherry bilar. And then I'm just going to read, a bit more organised.


[foreign language 00:06:39], ancestral homelands of the Djaara people. I wish to acknowledge elders past, present, and those present today. I'd also like to acknowledge my [inaudible 00:06:51] ancestors, Emma Kern, Tom Denoli. I'm just going to read you a bit from our country plan called Our Country.

Dja Dja Wurrung territory extends from Mount Franklin and the towns of Creswick and Daylesford in the southeast, to Castlemaine, Maldon and Bendigo in the east. Boort in the north, Donald in the northwest. To Navarre Hill and Mount Avoca marking the southwest boundary. Our territory encompasses the Bendigo and [inaudible 00:07:19] gold fields and the Loddon and Avoca river watersheds.

Hundreds of years ago, our country was mostly covered in open forests and woodlands providing us with the plants and animals that we use for food, medicine, shelter, and customary practises. Today though our country is vastly changed, it still holds many important values. Our box iron bark forests do not occur anywhere else. Important tucker and medicine species can still be found across our country. Eels, mussels, craze and fish like Murray cod and yellow belly are in our rivers. Emu, goanna, possum, kangaroo and wallaby have been sustainably used on this country for thousands of years and continue to be important to us.

We use local plants like lomandra, salt bush, nadu, wattle, red gum and chocolate lilies. Our country is now also valued by other peoples and cultures. European and Asian cultural heritage is strong, particularly through the gold mining history of our region, which continues to influence the recreational pursuits of prospecting and [inaudible 00:08:24] that are practised today. Local industries including beekeeping, forestry, agriculture, and tourism, depend on the natural resources that our country provides. Thank you.

Speaker - Richard Fennell:

Thank you Auntie Peta. It's now my pleasure to introduce Cassandra Lewis, who's the general manager of DJAARA. Welcome Cassandra.

Speaker - Cassandra Lewis:

Hi everybody. Thank you to the kids. That was truly beautiful hearing you singing, it made me cry actually. Really, thanks for sharing that song. The Opposite of rain happening there. Thanks so much for inviting me here today to mark this occasion with you. I would like to congratulate the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank on the development of your Reconciliation Action Plan. The bank joins a growing number of organisations to develop reconciliation action plans with Reconciliation Australia since 2006. And to quote from Reconciliation Australia, RAPs enable organisations to strategically and sustainably take meaningful action to advance reconciliation.

There's some great work happening across the state with RAPs providing a pathway for people to take action. RAPs help organisations to become more inclusive and culturally aware. They ensure indigenous voices are heard and included in decision making. As a Dja Dja Wurrung woman and general manager of her aboriginal corporation, DJAARA, I think it's a really positive step that the bank's taken today. I understand that Bendigo & Adelaide Bank began as the Bendigo Mutual Permanent Land and Building Society in 1858 on the Bendigo gold fields. This was a time of unimaginable upheaval, trauma and heartbreak for my people when our lands were forcibly taken and the gold mining turned the country upside down

And so it seems fitting that the RAP is launched here today in Bendigo, on Dja Dja Wurrung country. It's heartening to see the Bendigo Bank recognising the past wrongs and committing to move forward towards reconciliation, towards stronger relationships with aboriginal people. We look forward to deepening the relationship between the Dja Dja Wurrung Group and the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank. Already Dja Dja Wurrung people are working with the bank here in Bendigo and I understand your board and executive will spend the day on country next week with [foreign language 00:11:54], our creative enterprises. [foreign language 00:11:57] means thank you between two people, the giver and receiver of culture.

And Dja Dja Wurrung artist, Troy Firebrace, was commissioned to create a vibrant mural inside your refurbished Mitchell Street branch. And Troy, who's in the crowd, also designed the cover of the Reconciliation Action Plan being launched here today. Initiatives like this help put Dja Dja Wurrung people and culture back into the landscape in a modern way. For Dja Dja Wurrung, our goal is self-determination, Dja Dja Wurrung people having an established place in society and being empowered to manage our own affairs. DJAARA , the Dja Dja Wurrung Clan's Aboriginal Corporation exists to represent and protect the interests of Dja Dja Wurrung people. We are a family business and the vision of our family business is that we are a thriving and sustainable corporation with established interests that are beneficial for not only traditional owners but the wider community. Everything we do is guided by our [inaudible 00:13:04] country plan. The country plan has nine goals that are all interrelated. The goals relate to the health and wellbeing of our people, culture, our land, order, and the way our land is managed and to the traditional owner economy.

Economic sustainability is a critical element in the journey towards self-determination. We are growing our family business by establishing new enterprises that will provide a strong and diverse economic base. Building strong partnerships with our allies is a really important part of this process. We are delighted to work together with the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and we look forward to growing the relationship and learning more about how we can support each other on the journey towards reconciliation. I'm really pleased to note that the Bendigo Bank has been working closely with other traditional owner groups across the country and I congratulate you on taking the significant step of formally committing to reconciliation action.
The Dja Dja Wurrung group wish you all the best with the implementation and look forward to a deeper relationship developing. And I just wanted to congratulate everyone that was involved. It's not an easy process and everyone that's really good to see you all here celebrating all the work that's achieved. Thank you.

Speaker - Richard Fennell:

Thanks Cassandra, and thank you for sharing those insights. And also thank you to you for your support to help us get to this stage and we look forward to working with you and the broader Dja Dja Wurrung people as we continue on this journey. We're now going to play a short video from Troy Firebrace, the creator of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan artwork. The artwork is on display upstairs in the foyer area and we encourage you all to take time to have a look at that later today.

Speaker - Troy Firebrace:

I'm Troy Firebrace, a Yorta Yorta Djadjawurrung man. And I've been collaborating with Bendigo Bank to develop an artwork for their Reconciliation Action Plan. The community is represented in the foundation of the soil. It provides nutrients for the tree. As the tree roots embed themselves into the soil itself. There is a partnership between the tree and the soil. The tree roots stabilise the foundation as the foundation provides nutrients for growth.

As we transition into the middle of the painting, we can see the tree established prominent in the landscape. Here in itself, the tree is Bendigo Bank. It transforms the landscape, it provides for the landscape, it provides for all of us. A tree itself has purpose for tools, it has purpose for leaves and shelter. It's a place where community can come together. It is a place where community can rely on. The impact of partnerships, the impact of how we engage with the tree, and thus the tree is for us and we are for it. The tree itself becomes the solid foundation for the future, but as we look back, we see the work that has been done in the past that provided for what we have today.

Speaker - Richard Fennell:

It's wonderful to get the understanding behind this wonderful piece of art that now sits upstairs. And the relevance for the journey we are on with our Reconciliation Action Plan. It's now my great pleasure to hand over to our managing director and chief executive officer Marnie Baker.

Speaker - Marnie Baker:

Thank you all for joining us here as we launch our first Reconciliation Action Plan. I would also like to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people of the Kulin nation and pay my respects to elders past and present. I'd also like to extend a special thank you to our guest speaker Cassandra Lewis, and to the students of the St Killian's Primary School who did a wonderful job. And to the Catherine McAuley College who you're going to hear performing a bit later.

It is such an honour to be with you all today. I am so glad, Troy, that you've been able to get here because I heard that you weren't going to be and you've got some exciting news coming along. But I would really like to thank you, Troy. We've had a lovely association with you and you've created such wonderful art for us. And you just saw that on the screen, the latest piece of art. And I think I do want to thank you just for the beautiful way that you have represented our commitment through the art.

Over 160 years ago, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank was formed on the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung peoples of the Kulin nation. The histories of this land stretch back over 65,000 years and are rich in cultures and traditions. We know that the time of our founding was one of displacement and loss for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan marks the beginning of our journey to better understand the true histories of our first nations peoples and a further reconciliation in Australia. Something what we are wholeheartedly committed to as an organisation.

I myself grew up on a dairy farm on the lands of the Barababaraba and the Yorta Yorta nations before making my way to the Dja Dja Wurrung country to study. I have a deep love for the land and much like Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, a passion for supporting our regional communities. Responding to the needs of Australian communities and feeding into their prosperity, not off it, is an important part of who we are at the bank and provides us with strong foundations to support this important work. In our experience, making a meaningful difference starts with taking the time to really listen to people and understand their needs and circumstances. Our community bank model, which is built on the principle of empowering communities, is testament to that.

While we have a unique experience in partnering with communities, we recognise that we still have a lot to learn from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, which is why we won't take this journey alone. We believe that a Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be enabled to have input into policies and decisions that impact them. It's why we support the Voice to Parliament and why we will invite First Nations people to join us in our reconciliation efforts.

Our Reflect RAP commitments include building and strengthening our connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, working closely together to understand where we can have the greatest impact and the role we can play in creating an equitable future. In the past, our contributions to reconciliation activities have primarily taken place through our passionate branch teams, working with local communities and through our community enterprise foundation in the form of internship programmes, scholarships, partnerships, and community investment. Our Reflect RAP is the first step in being more coordinated and focused in our efforts and seeks to increase the cultural competency of all of our Bendigo & Adelaide Bank employees, with a focus on cultural recognition, strengthened relationships and partnerships, growth and employment.

One of our first actions is to establish an ongoing RAP working group who will manage the day-to-day delivery of the plan. And this will be an extension of the working group dedicated to creating the first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan that consisted of employees and senior leaders representing all areas of our business. Recognising that our employees play a really important role, we will be establishing a First Nations employee network to guide conversations at every level within the organisation. And we will of course seek advice from DJAARA as a leading local organisation. And our other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders within our communities.

At Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, we take seriously our social licence to operate in the hundreds of communities we are part of, across metro, regional and rural Australia. The launch of our Reflect Reconciliation Plan marks our promise to further reconciliation in those communities and is something that I am truly proud of. I am also grateful to all for attending here today and also to those that have attended via livestream to witness our commitment. I just want to thank you all again and I'll pass now back over to Richard.

Speaker - Richard Fennell:

Thanks Marnie. We're also joined today by students from the Catherine McAuley College who I would like now to welcome to the stage to sing a song in language. That song is called [foreign language 00:24:29].

Speaker - Studen from Catherine McAuley College:
This song's called [foreign language 00:25:06].

Speaker - Richard Fennell:

Thank you to the band from Catherine McAuley College for that beautiful song and thank you again to all our special guests and colleagues and community partners for joining us today. I do sincerely encourage you all to continue to stand alongside us as we progress along our process of reconciliation with our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. I'd like to also now welcome you all to join us for some afternoon tea. This can be served just to my right or your left. Thank you again and good afternoon.

Reconciliation in action

Bendigo Bank Indigenous Scholarship Program

Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander? Are you looking to study in 2024? The Bendigo Bank Indigenous Scholarship might be for you.

Supporting women and girls across regional and rural Australia

Social investment grants have been donated to organisations dedicated to supporting women and girls in vulnerable situations across regional and rural Australia.

For more information on our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan

Lisa Mignone, Senior Manager Diversity and Inclusion

Telephone: 1300 236 344 or +61 3 5445 0666 (if calling from overseas)

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this nation and the Traditional Custodians of the land where we live, learn and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present as it is their knowledge and experience that holds the key to the success of future generations.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879. Any advice provided on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Information on this page can change without notice to you.
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