Since launching its inaugural Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) late last year, Netball Australia’s RAP Working Group has met regularly to discuss and pursue the ambitious goals outlaid in the document.
The group will convene in Adelaide this week – National Reconciliation Week – to watch the ANZ Championship match between the Adelaide Thunderbirds and West Coast Fever. Both teams will be wearing special dresses designed by Indigenous netball community members.
RAP Working Group Chairwoman Karen Milward believes that great progress has been made to date, and that everyone can play their role in Netball Australia’s RAP from the grassroots, to the Diamonds.
“We are very excited about what we have achieved in the first seven months of implementing our RAP actions,” Milward said.
“The Member Organisations are supportive and have signed up to make things happen to work towards improving cultural awareness and competency, aimed at working more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and women to be more actively involved in the netball community.”
Milward also called upon the broader netball community to support the RAP, explaining that while the RAP is an important first step, more support and action is needed to achieve the ambitious aims.
“The RAP itself is only just a small step and we have so much more to do,” Milward said,
“We need so much more support from the netball community, to get behind this exciting initiative. We want more Aboriginal girls and women to be actively participating in netball events and taking on various roles in this great Australian sport.”
RAP Working Group member Melina Saunders, a former elite player, spoke to the Australian Diamonds during their squad camp – at the request of coach Lisa Alexander – on Monday (main picture) about National Reconciliation Week and the leadership role they can play in Australia’s reconciliation process.
“Netball is such a powerful tool to engage with young women,” Saunders said, as she discussed the RAP and how the players could get involved, the importance of their leadership role in the netball community as role models to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous netballers, and of opportunities for sport-wide reconciliation celebrations in 2017.
Saunders, who represented Australia at underage level and now coaches State League in the ACT, has guided Netball Australia’s work to better support and engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander netball communities for over three years.
She also sits on the recently formed RAP High Performance Subcommittee, which focuses on elements of the High Performance Pathway including player support and engagement, coach development and cultural capacity for staff.