A moving ceremony in which Cummins South Pacific pledged a commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was held recently at the company’s headquarters in Melbourne.

The ceremony marked the launch of Cummins’ Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and was attended by Aboriginal community leaders and elders together with Cummins customers and employees.

The RAP, ratified by Reconciliation Australia and proudly described by executive director of Cummins Asia Pacific Distribution, Andrew Penca, as a historic moment in Cummins’ 97-year history, is about implementing practical actions that build respectful relationships and create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

One of the key outcomes of the RAP is for Cummins to become an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Acknowledging Cummins’ “long history of community involvement”, Aboriginal elder Aunty Marg (Margaret Gardiner) from the Wurundjeri Tribe congratulated Cummins South Pacific on its RAP.

She said “serious thought” had obviously gone into the development of the RAP over a three-year period. “All of you here can contribute to a better life for a lot of people out there,” said Aunty Marg. “We need more companies who are going to start not just considering the environment but also considering people and society.”

The RAP document includes a comprehensive list of actions with a distinct timeline for these actions to be taken. The actions include education and work experience initiatives, development of business opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned companies, and a range of internal communication and training programs to raise awareness of the rich history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Witnessing history.
The importance of the RAP launch was aptly captured by Andrew Penca: “It’s a special occasion when you can witness history but it’s even more special when you can take part in history, when you can be part of writing history.

“A number of emotions run through you on an occasion such as this: incredible humility and excitement because we’re about to embark on a journey we haven’t taken before, and certainly honour and privilege to have this accountability and responsibility put upon our shoulders to carry this forward,” he said.

“I reflect with great pride on…the fact that Cummins lives and breathes the appreciation of diversity in many forms. It is woven into our fabric.”

Peter Jensen-Muir, executive managing director for Cummins Asia Pacific, invoked the legacy of J Irwin Miller, Cummins’ former chairman and CEO and social activist, during the RAP ceremony.

“The values that Irwin Miller helped embed have really defined Cummins over the years,” he said. “Our core business principle is that if we don’t have healthy communities then our business can’t thrive.

“To be able to be successful in the complex world we live in today we have to have diversity in our teams. That’s a key part of how Cummins is successful, how it has become a global business from a small business in the midwest of America.”

Col Russell, who steered development of the RAP as director of corporate responsibility for Cummins South Pacific, said the RAP would make a difference by “unleashing the power of Cummins and making real changes in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”.