Meet our RAP Committee: Jeff Oatman, Senior Manager - Membership

03 Jul 2018

Why did you join the GBCA RAP Committee?

I was interested in learning more about Australia’s Indigenous history and culture, and how this can overlap with my own current work at the GBCA and saw this as a neat way of doing both. We also have a number of member organisations exploring their own RAPs as well as RAPs being integrated into Green Star projects and I wanted to be across what that entailed.

What was your previous experience with Indigenous Australians prior to coming on board?

I grew up in Canada so I'd say my knowledge has been somewhat limited to what I've read or seen on SBS or ABC. A few years ago I read John Pilger's Heroes and he recalls going to the National War Museum in Canberra and asking one of the curators why of all the wars in Australia, the frontier wars were not a part of the museum. He argued that more Australians died defending their country than any other war in the nation's history and should have a place there.  This has always stuck with me and since then, I’ve taken a keen interest in learning more about Indigenous history and the current issues First Australians face.

What did you hope to learn from coming on board?

A few things. First, how a RAP actually works and what the requirements are. Secondly, more about the history of the land we live and work on. When you think about the land as having a history of stewardship that goes back thousands of years, you tend to think of it differently and also appreciate it in a way you may not have before. I also wanted to measure how we, as an organisation, can have an impact through the work we do in supporting other members on their RAPs.

Can you pick one standout experience from being on the RAP Committee so far?

Probably speaking with other members and learning about the work that they've done on their RAPs. Some members are much further down the track than we are on their RAPs and have really worked to ingrain reconciliation into their core business. It's also apparent that in many instances, this has meant significant changes have had to be made from both the top down, and also from the bottom up. It's great to see.

How have the GBCA staff embraced the spirit of reconciliation?

So far, so good. We’re still at the beginning of our journey so we’re looking into how we can enhance staff engagement through cultural competency training and other educational activities around the benefits of RAPs for businesses.

In what ways do you believe reconciliation and Indigenous engagement can provide positive impacts on the sustainable built environment?

I believe we can look to the resilience of Indigenous Australians, who have sustained the land and their unique culture for thousands of years, and learn how we can adapt this to greening the built environment.