Violet Roumeliotis SSI CEO (left) and Voula Messimeri, SSI Chair (right) with Nicole Beaver at the Settlement Services International (SSI) ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launch event in Sydney on Wednesday, 23 February. Image Contributed.


If there is one thing Nicole Beaver wants youth in Condobolin to know, it is that you can achieve anything when you set your mind to it.
Originally from Condobolin, Nicole is now the Settlement Services International (SSI) Indigenous Inclusion and Reconciliation Lead in the Culture, inclusion and wellbeing Team and plays an integral role in the organisation’s implementation of the ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
She was part of SSI’s official ‘Innovate’ RAP launch, which was held at the Ashfield Town Hall in Sydney, to celebrate SSI’s reconciliation journey with key members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, staff and supporters on Wednesday, 23 February.
The SSI Group’s ‘Innovate’ RAP, recently endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, is the organisation’s commitment to creating opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, under three key pillars: Relationships, Respect and Opportunities.
A traditional Smoking Ceremony welcomed guests to the event where ABC International Affairs Analyst and Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man Stan Grant provided the keynote address, speaking about reconciliation and its meaning to Aboriginal people.
The event also featured Aunty Munya Andrews, Director, Aboriginal Elder, Educator & Facilitator at Evolve Communities; and Aboriginal educator and artist, Walangari Karntawarra led a dance performance.
Ms Beaver has led the development and implementation of policies that ensures consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and stakeholders before decisions are made.
“We are continuously advocating for consultation and believe decisions regarding organisational change, business or government policy need suitable consultation,” she explained.
“We need to allow First Nations Peoples the opportunity to discuss and make decisions on issues that affect them. This sentiment is echoed throughout our RAP, and it was a proud day for us all to officially launch this plan.”
Ms Beaver said it was important to acknowledge the past and work together on a path towards reconciliation.
“I have Indigenous heritage. My family was affected by past systems of child removal. My dad was removed from his mum and adopted. He grew up disconnected. My grandmother was removed as well. I am still on my journey to reconnect. That involves not speaking for Indigenous people on things that I don’t know about – I am still learning,” she said.
“In my role, I do connect and reach out. Part of our RAP is to make sure we do reach out and connect and have an Indigenous voice in everything we do. It is important to make sure we get community consultation and really reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who grew up and have lived experience.
“I am happy and have experience in engaging with and developing those relationships. I grew in Condobolin which has a strong cultural heritage – they are very proud mob out there.”
There are also opportunities for SSI to assist local based people and programs in Condobolin with business development and support. Nicole said they are welcome to reach out to her if they would like to have a yarn.
SSI RAP Ambassador, Anaiwan Elder, Owner of Lovelock Consultancy, Managing Director of the Armidale and Regional Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, Rose Lovelock, said by addressing the vision of Australian Society and key issues, SSI’s RAP provides a strong road map for the future.
“As an Anaiwan Elder I am pleased to endorse the SSI Reconciliation Action Plan,” she stated.
“The first meeting of the ‘Council for Reconciliation’ held in February 1992 identified a vision of Australian Society for 2001 as ‘A united Australia which respects the land of ours; values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage; and provides justice and equity for all.
“The eight key issues of understanding of the importance of land and sea; better relationships with the wider community; recognition of the value of culture and heritage; shared ownership of our history; awareness of causes of disadvantage in health, housing, employment and education; addressing high custody levels; First Nations People in control of their destiny; formalising the process of reconciliation.
“As the SSI RAP Ambassador, I believe the SSI RAP addresses the above vision and key issues thus providing a strong road map for the future.”
SSI CEO, Violet Roumeliotis, shared the organisation’s journey to date, as well as the ongoing commitment to embed a safe environment that increases and promotes the employment, participation, voice, dialogue, and discussion with people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“The SSI Group entered the development of its first Reconciliation Action Plan expecting it to be an educational process. What we didn’t expect was just how humbling it has been. We are only at the start of our journey towards realising Makarrata, but already we have gained so much new insight into the immense knowledge and wisdom that resides in the world’s oldest living culture,” she said.
“This is more than just a proposal – it is our commitment to strengthening our relationship with Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples.”
Stan Grant reflected on reconciliation being an important journey involving recognition.
“Reconciliation is a journey not a destination. This is an important step for Settlement Services International and recognises the importance of indigenous values and culture and importantly it recognises our shared history, and that reconciliation happens when we find ourselves in each other,” he said.
SSI is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. They work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.
The organisation’s vision is to achieve a society that values the diversity of its people and actively provides support to ensure meaningful social and economic participation and to assist individuals and families to reach their potential. Formed in 2000, SSI is also the state-wide umbrella organisation for 11 Migrant Resource Centres and Multicultural Services across NSW.
SSI describes themselves as: “Settlement Services International (SSI) is a provider of lifechanging human and social services. We are also a leading supplier of evidence based insights into the social sector. Our not-for-profit organisation was founded in Sydney in 2000 with the aim of helping newly arrived refugees settle in Australia. Over time, our expertise in working with people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds served as the foundation for a gradual expansion into other social services. Now, as well as those on humanitarian visas, we work with a wider group of migrants, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, children, families, people living with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the LGBTIQA+ communities.
“We access federal and state funding, as well as private philanthropy, to provide pathways to employment and education, as well as health and support services for our clients. In 2018, SSI merged with Access Community Services, which provides similar services in Queensland. In 2020-21, we operated more than 37 programs and served approximately 52,000 people. Drawing on feedback from the communities with whom we work, we also identify unmet needs and invest in innovative initiatives to close the gaps. We increasingly seek to influence global and Australian policy on refugees and other sectors of society, where we believe our research can inform the debate and make a positive difference.”

Nicole Beaver speaking at the Settlement Services International (SSI) ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launch. Image Contributed.

Nicole Beaver speaking at the Settlement Services International (SSI) ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launch. Image Contributed.

Last Updated: 30/03/2022By

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