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Department of Human Services Reconciliation Action Plan 2015-2017

Reconciliation Action Plan Case Study banner, featuring two smiling Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women


The Australian Government Department of Human Services



Reconciliation Action Plan editorial and design



We were excited by the opportunity to work with the Department of Human Services (the department) on their second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and their first aiming to achieve the ‘Elevate’ status.

Reconciliation Australia awards the elevate status, their highest level, only to organisations that are leading social and cultural change and improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

Strategies like a Reconciliation Action Plan or a Disability Action Plan are vital in helping organisations to overcome barriers for people wanting to work with them and making sure that all their clients and customers feel confident and comfortable accessing their services. They are also an important step in making sure people are appreciated for what they can offer the community and ensuring everyone enjoys the same rights and access.

An effective action plan should highlight what an organisation is already achieving but more importantly what they want to achieve in the future. This future planning should focus on how they can better support their customers and staff, and make sure their organisation and services are inclusive and accessible to everyone, as well as identify how they can positively affect the broader community.  

What we did:

Working closely with the team from the department, we moulded the information they provided us with ­ into a clear and engaging document that crystallised their goals for reconciliation. We ensured their achievement statistics in areas such as staff retention and cultural awareness were emphasised and that their key programs highlighted their areas of focus and where they wanted to improve.

The department leads the way in government with their Indigenous Cross Cultural Awareness training as well as their systems and programs designed to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to work with them. They also have a range of programs and initiatives across the organisation that support their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, customers and businesses that they contract with. It was important for us to demonstrate the value of these programs to the organisation and the wider community and the outstanding results they have already achieved.

A vital part of our role was to make sure that the content was readable and approachable for a wide and diverse audience. This meant using plain, clear and engaging language as well as design elements to provide visual representation of their achievements and ideals.

After restructuring and rewriting the content in consultation with the department, and allowing for feedback and approvals, we then added a visual design that complemented and completed the document. The design was able to take the content to another level of engagement and professionalism, as well as using an original artwork created by a talented Aboriginal member of the Department, to illustrate the concepts of reconciliation.

Montage of pages from the Reconciliation Action Plan

What we achieved:

By assisting the department to focus on and draw out their key achievements – particularly in the area of leadership across government – we helped ensure their achievement of Reconciliation Australia’s ‘elevate’ status. The department truly is leading the way in many areas of reconciliation and it was wonderful to see them recognised for that.

Our writing and editorial work, as well as our engaging design, ensured that the RAP was accessible and approachable to a wide audience.

We have received very positive feedback from across the department and the RAP was launched successfully in June 2015.


Rachel Palmer, Director of the Governance Branch, Whole of Government Coordination Division at the department, described her experience of the project and working with IAG: 

“The RAP is an important document to assist the department to achieve a consistent message on this very important issue. It ensures all staff understand what the department has achieved already and the actions we are committed to over the next three years.

Reconciliation Australia have recognised the department’s strong and ongoing commitment to reconciliation initiatives with the allocation of the ‘Elevate’ status.

We found IAG very supportive in our developing of the RAP and they added a lot of value in shaping and presenting the text.

They were very understanding of a detailed communication process within the department, accepting of changes to the planned timeline and very quick in responding when we provided new information to be incorporated into the document.”

Read the RAP on the department's website in PDF format.