From left to right: Koryce Su, Compliance and Account Administration Representative; Janice Lee, Finance Representative; Vesna Davidovic, Network Development and Compliance Executive Representative; Tara Rapley, Customer Service Representative; Reena Bharattai, Accounts Payable Representative; Michelle Mandl – Keating, Engagement and Executive Representative.

Celebrating Reconciliation – A vision for a unified Australia

Our Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group is composed of Team members that responded to a call to action from the business to self-nominate and get involved in the delivery of a Reconciliation Action Plan. Developed from within our business and leveraging our unique sphere of influence as a container deposit scheme network operator, our commitment to Reconciliation is focused on achieving a culturally inclusive and safe workplace that helps in the development of a more united Australia.

National Reconciliation Week 2022 provided TOMRA Cleanaway with the natural launch pad of our ‘Reflect’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The plan provides a framework for TOMRA Cleanaway’s commitment to Reconciliation across three pillars;

  • Respect
  • Relationships
  • Opportunities

These areas provide us with the focus to reflect on where our business has been developing in terms of Reconciliation and where we need to go in the future.

An important element in the correct governance of our Reconciliation Action Plan, was the establishment of our Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group. The RAP Working Group includes representatives from each of our operational areas across TOMRA Cleanaway, as well as executive involvement. Initially led by Michelle Mandl-Keating and Tara Rapley, the Rap Working Group expanded in January 2022 to include self-nominated employees from finance, administration, customer service and audit and compliance functions.

Introducing our ‘Acknowledgement of Country’

An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is one of the early commitments our RAP Working Group agreed to deliver for TOMRA Cleanaway. Acknowledgement of Country is a show of respect to the long connections that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have to Country. Country has far greater meaning than just the land, Country means the social gatherings, songlines, cultural obligations and rituals that ancestors were custodians and caretakers of.

TOMRA Cleanaway has committed to an Acknowledgement of Country being an act of respect and demonstration of reconciliation. As our Head Office in NSW is based in Western Sydney, acknowledgement of the local Darug People and the Country we are based on is an important element of our Acknowledgement.

“TOMRA Cleanaway acknowledges the Traditional owners of Country throughout the lands upon which we operate, especially the Darug people.

We pay our respect to elders past, present and emerging for their connections and care of country, songlines and culture.”

Introducing our Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group

Our RAP Working Group members are active participants in generating ideas and actions to help TOMRA Cleanaway deliver outcomes for our Reconciliation Action Plan. Our plan is currently going through review with Reconciliation Australia.

Each member of our RAP Working Group responded to a call to action from the business to self-nominate and get involved in the delivery of a plan.  The plan developed from within TOMRA Cleanaway and leveraged our unique activities as a container deposit scheme network operator.

Motivation to be involved in something that is an activity outside of the scope of everyone’s roles is always a challenge to overcome, however, after several months of collaboration, a plan has been executed and key deliverables and actions identified! All with thanks to our highly motivated RAP Working Group.

A very special thanks to this great team who have kindly shared their motivation to be involved in TOMRA Cleanaway’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.

“Growing up in Western Sydney in the 80’s, Aboriginality was not something that was celebrated, but had stigma attached to it. My personal family history is quite unknown as my Grandfather was adopted from a NSW ‘home’ that burnt down – removing any opportunity to find out about our heritage and history.

I am proud though that I can say my children, nieces and nephews have Aboriginal heritage through my husband’s family. I want culture and pride in culture and understanding of Country to be something my Children grow up with. My involvement in the Working Group gives me the opportunity to create change in my area of influence and make a contribution towards a more reconciled Australia.”

Tara Rapley, Customer Service Representative

“The call for involvement in the TOMRA Cleanaway Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group prompted me to become an active participant, as I have a strong desire to be better educated about Aboriginal Peoples and learn more about our First Nations history. My mum is a proud Indigenous woman from Wailwan Country. Growing up we had limited exposure to my heritage, similarly to which I believe has affected many generations of Australian’s true understanding of our country’s Indigenous history.

My goal is to learn more about my culture, to empower me to discuss my ancestry and to make a positive impact and provide insightful knowledge that helps Reconciliation in Australia by being involved in our Working Group. Through my involvement I will be helping shape the future of a business that is geared towards doing something positive for Reconciliation in Australia.”

Koryce Su, Compliance and Account Administration Representative

“Gratitude and service are both important culturally to Nepalese people, the country from where I originated. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, there are many people that suffer due to inequality and injustices and we have a responsibility as members of our society to improve the circumstances for all people, so that each generation lives better than the last.

I am also a musician in my personal life and I am deeply interested in learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and culture. I want to be able to use my involvement in the Working Group to learn more about Culture and connections to Country. I want to be of service and give something back that improves Reconciliation in Australia whilst also learning and being able to teach others.”

Reena Bharattai, Accounts Payable Representative

“I am originally from Malaysia, a developing country in South East Asia. Malaysia is a multicultural country and while most younger generations are slowly adapting the harmonious multi-culturalism, when I was growing up, there were still members of the community that experience barriers purely because of their cultural background.

My personal life is heavily focussed on volunteering and giving back to the community and hoping to see equality, fairness, inclusion, and non-discrimination in society. My involvement in TOMRA Cleanaway’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group is a way for me to gain an improved understanding of First Nations Culture and history and help lift those that need it. I’m hoping to be able to be involved in capacity building through my commitment to Reconciliation.”

Janice Lee, Finance Representative

“I originally trained as a Teacher and my motivation to be involved in TOMRA Cleanaway’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group is a direct result of an experience I had early in my career as a tutor for targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying at the University of Western Sydney. Listening to their very personal stories of my student’s familial experiences, primarily the impact of the Stolen Generations motivated me a long time ago.

This societal legacy is an act that was still so fresh and was impacting our First Nations Peoples that were my age, due to an ingrained fear. I recognise I have considerable opportunity to facilitate change. Reconciliation in the workplace is recognition of the ability to work with Aboriginal Peoples to improve outcomes within our sphere of influence and make our organisation a culturally safe place.”

Michelle Mandl – Keating, Engagement and Executive Representative

“My motivation to support TOMRA Cleanaway’s Reconciliation Action Plan and vision for Reconciliation is a direct result of my experiences in network development and compliance NSW. One of the return points where we provide community access to Return and Earn is based in Wilcannia – Barkandji Country in far western remote NSW. My experience in this township and with the local Aboriginal Land Council (return point operator) demonstrated the considerable value and community benefit delivered by partnering with TOMRA Cleanaway for Return and Earn.

What was clear through my involvement was the localised strengthening of community links and the considerable positive social, environmental and economic benefit in the town. That experience was the first of many, instilling motivation to replicate positive change, new opportunities and new partnerships with TOMRA Cleanaway that provide better outcomes for Aboriginal Peoples, increasing equality and access to our operations.“

Vesna Davidovic, Network Development and Compliance Executive Representative

Reconciliation Journey

Our journey towards Reconciliation will be a collaborative and guided activity with involvement from our whole business and support from the TOMRA Cleanaway Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.

Future initiatives include upcoming ‘Cultural Awareness Training’ currently being finalised with one of our Partners, KARI. In addition to this, we are looking forward to the whole team celebrations in NAIDOC Week this July that involve external third party operators in the NSW Return and Earn network.

Investigating partnerships that deliver benefit to the community and Aboriginal Peoples is of importance to our Team and will continue to be a focus in our day-to-day business activities.