Our new Reconciliation Action Plan to rebuild trust with First Nations communities

We have today launched a new three-year Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), with wide ranging initiatives to improve connectivity for our customers, improve cultural awareness across our organisation, and to support employment and procurement opportunities.
Andrew Penn · 28 July 2022 · 3 minute read

This is our fifth RAP, building on a long history of connection with Australia’s First Nations communities and continuing our ongoing journey towards reconciliation.

Our new Reconciliation Action Plan 2022–2025 (PDF 9.4MB) comes after we agreed to pay a $50 million penalty and provide an undertaking to the ACCC as a result of a small number of licensee stores engaging in unconscionable sales practices towards 108 First Nations customers from 2016 to 2018. This led Reconciliation Australia to revoke our previous Elevate RAP in 2021.

Since then, we have continued our efforts to rebuild trust and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities across Australia. This new RAP is another step along that path.

An important step in our reconciliation journey

It has been 18 months since Telstra has had a Reconciliation Action Plan and today is an important step in putting things right.

Reconciliation Australia’s decision to revoke our Elevate RAP status was the right decision, though it was a deeply disappointing moment for me.

As a leading Australian business with strong ties with First Nations peoples, it was a low point in meeting our obligations to our customers and society more broadly. I am a firm believer that all companies are defined by how they respond when things go wrong.

I would like to personally thank all those who have helped us to get to this point.

Our Stretch RAP contains over 90 actions including targets of 1.5 per cent of employees being First Nations Australians, $15 million per year being spent with First Nations suppliers, and making 150 remote community visits during this financial year.

It also commits Telstra to actions on truth telling, supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart, significant investments in connectivity infrastructure, a range of new and ongoing digital inclusion programs, new training and employment programs, plus community sponsorships.

We are very thankful to have worked with Reconciliation Australia to get to this point. Telstra remains very committed to play a leading role in the process of reconciliation and believe we have taken some important steps with our new RAP.

The opportunity to build something better

Speaking at the launch of our RAP in Darwin today, CEO of Reconciliation Australia Karen Mundine said it marked an opportunity to take ownership and embed reconciliation in our operations.

“The value of the RAP program is that all RAPs are tailored to partners’ individual circumstances, needs and areas of expertise. In Telstra’s case, this Stretch RAP is tailored to where it is now on its reconciliation journey: at a moment of deep remorse and contrition, but also of reflection, awareness and hope. By taking ownership and accountability for its actions, and by taking the time to understand the profound ramifications of its mistakes, Telstra has paved the way for this Stretch RAP.

“The past few years have taught us that out of crisis comes the opportunity to build something better, and that is what Telstra is looking to achieve. It is taking its newfound awareness of the pitfalls of disconnecting from its commitments, and returning to its foundations, so that reconciliation is securely embedded throughout its operations.”

Read our full Reconciliation Action Plan 2022-2025 (PDF 9.4MB)


By Andrew Penn

Former Chief Executive Officer

Andy Penn became the CEO and Managing Director of Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, on 1 May 2015. At Telstra, Andy is leading an ambitious change program transforming the business to be positioned to compete in the radically changing technology world of the future with 5G at its core. Andy has had an extensive career spanning 40 years across 3 different industries - telecommunications, financial services and shipping. He joined Telstra in 2012 as Chief Financial Officer. In 2014 he took on the additional responsibilities as Group Executive International.

Prior to Telstra, Andy spent 23 years with the AXA Group, one of the world’s largest insurance and investment groups. His time at AXA included the roles of Chief Executive Officer 2006-2011 AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Asia and Chief Executive Australia and New Zealand.  At AXA, Andy was instrumental in building one of the most successful Asian businesses by an Australian company that was sold to its parent in 2011 for more than A$10bn.

Other directorships & appointments: Member of the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria; Board Director of the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA); Chairman of the Australian Government’s Cyber Industry Advisory Panel, created to guide development of Australia’s 2020 Cyber Security Strategy; Patron, on behalf of Telstra, of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards (NATSIAA); Life Governor of Very Special Kids and an Ambassador for the Amy Gillett Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of both The Big Issue Home for Homes and JDRF.

Recognition and qualifications: MBA (Kingston), AMP (Harvard), FCCA, HFAIPM. Andy has a national diploma in business studies (with distinction), is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, holds an MBA from Kingston University and is a graduate of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program. In 2008 Andy was recognised as Insurance Executive of the year in the Australian Banking and Finance Awards and in 2016 he was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Institute of Project Management. In 2018 Andy was named by the Financial Times among the top 10 male leaders globally HERoes list supporting women in business. In 2019 he was named by the Australian Financial Review as among the top 10 most powerful people in business.

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