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Coming together on Harmony Day: Our role in the nationwide effort to reconcile Australia

Today is Harmony Day – a time when Australia celebrates our cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

These are principles that Microsoft Australia considered carefully as we put together our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP): a plan to deepen our understanding, respect and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

We are a company with a mission; to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our dedication to inclusiveness requires constant reflection, self-assessment and recommitment. Our RAP forms an important part of that commitment in Australia.

First Australians have been creating and innovating for more than 60,000 years and yet in recent history, many in this community have been excluded from access to technology and the opportunities it enables.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said: ‘It is clear that Closing the Gap is a national responsibility that belongs with every Australian’. He also noted that ending this disparity is ‘complex and challenging’.

We believe Microsoft Australia has a role to play in this complex and challenging task.

We have supported non-profit organisations who work with First Australian communities for many years, and now that work is coming under the RAP umbrella.

Core to our RAP are the themes of relationships, respect and opportunities.

We will deepen relationships with the traditional owners, foster an internal culture of respect by embracing diversity and inclusiveness, and invest in developing our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and achievement.

We will also work to help create opportunities. As a technology company, we are passionate about making sure young Australians have the skills they need to flourish in a digital world. Working with various educational institutions and non-profit organisations, we are supporting programs that will take technology and skills to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth – and their teachers.

Additionally, we fund a number of scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students in primary school, high school and university.

Microsoft is partnering with Supply Nation to include First Australian businesses in its vendor network and support Supply Nation’s unique and compelling vision to build a prosperous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector.

The image in this blog is an artwork we commissioned by Aboriginal artist Jasmine Sarin to help visualise our commitment.  Her story of the artwork really resonated with me, she said:

“My piece, Connecting Culture and Technology, is about the relationship between the world’s oldest living culture and our modern world’s advancing technology. It also features blank circles to represent new opportunities. While we have to be resilient with our culture, we also need to continue adapting in an ever-changing world and remember that we are all connected to this land.”

Our commitments are detailed in our RAP, along with our measures to gauge success – the targets, timelines and allocation of responsibilities that will help quantify effectiveness.

We all have a role to play in helping to achieve a reconciled, just and equitable community for all Australians. It is an honour to support Reconciliation Australia in the realisation of its ambition for our nation.