Coates unveils its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with the focus on boosting employee representation, business opportunities and cultural education.

In collaboration with Reconciliation Australia, Coates, Australia’s largest equipment hire and solutions provider, has committed to further developing and strengthening its relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the launch of its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The company’s second RAP includes strategies to grow the number of First Nations employees and apprentices; increase the number of Indigenous businesses Coates buys supplies from; and improve cultural awareness across the company.

Coates chief executive officer Murray Vitlich said the company’s vision for reconciliation is simple.

“By implementing all of the Innovate RAP key actions, we will build an organisation that advocates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, and respects traditional lands and Owners,” said Vitlich.

“We will increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee representation to reflect our communities. We will provide more opportunities for First Nations businesses and help those enterprises create meaningful opportunities in the communities where we co-exist. Underpinning it all, we will be an inclusive organisation that embraces people from all walks of life regardless of their backgrounds.”

Fostering inclusion, representation and education

As part of the new RAP, Coates will increase its First Nations supplier pool and support new Indigenous enterprises by targeting specific business categories. By 2024, the company has committed to achieving business procurement targets of five per cent of non-capital annual spend across two business categories.

The company will continue to create diversity and inclusion throughout the business, aiming to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island staff to 2.5 per cent and 10% of apprentices by 2025.

Meanwhile, over the next two years, Coates will improve cultural competency across its business by providing formal cultural awareness training to over 90 per cent of its workforce.

“Reconciliation is a journey for all of us as Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation,” said Vitlich. “At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Building on a strong foundation

Alongside Reconciliation Australia, the Innovate RAP was created in consultation with key external partners including the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce in Victoria, the Noongar Chamber of Commerce and Industry in WA, the Clontarf Foundation and Coates’ own internal RAP committee.

The plan builds on the success of Coates’ first RAP, Reflect, which began in 2020.

Since then, Coates has increased its Indigenous workforce by over 200 per cent, with 35 employees currently identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We are proud of the achievements of our Reflect RAP and what we have learned from these rich experiences. However, we must continue to challenge ourselves to do more to build stronger relationships with our local First Nations communities and employees in the coming years,” Vitlich said.

Supporting the Clontarf Foundation

In conjunction with its first RAP, Coates partnered with the Clontarf Foundation to provide funding that supports 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to participate in the non-profit organisation’s school-based engagement programs. Using sport as a hook, the programs aim to improve the education, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

Vitlich said that through the partnership, Coates employees have attended early morning training sessions, been participants and volunteers at football and cricket carnivals, been involved in employment forums and attended the end-of-year Clontarf awards nights.

“In addition, we’ve placed five young men from Clontarf into Coates roles, which shows just how valuable this relationship is, and will be, as more people within our organisation engage with the Clontarf Academies.

“This really speaks to what we want to achieve in our reconciliation journey, which is to create opportunities and employment pathways, as this has a flow-on effect for whole communities,” Vitlich said.

For more information about Coates’ reconciliation journey, visit