Friday, 8 July 2022: Woolworths Group has announced the establishment of its First Nations Advisory Board to guide Australia’s largest retailer as it seeks to improve engagement with Indigenous communities and continue to make a meaningful contribution towards Closing the Gap and Reconciliation within Australia.
The eight-member Advisory Board has 75 per cent Aboriginal representation, comprising a cross section of Woolworths Group team members and Indigenous business leaders.
It was formed in August last year with the mandate to provide frank and fearless advice to the wider business on matters related to Indigenous Affairs, reporting directly to Woolworths Group’s Board and engaging with the Woolworths Group Executive Committee and Sustainability Committee.
The Advisory Board will give counsel on matters including internal policies, advocacy positions, informing commercial and partnering decisions and Indigenous community engagement and empowerment.
Woolworths Group has publicly acknowledged its recent failings in Indigenous engagement following the proposed development of a liquor store in Darwin, which didn't adequately consider the views of the local community. The Advisory Board responds to the structural decision making issues identified by the Independent Panel Review commissioned into the Darwin development last year, prior to the demerger of Woolworths Group's liquor business under Endeavour Drinks late in 2021. The Darwin development did not proceed.
Woolworths Group is one of the largest employers of Indigenous Australians with more than 5,000 First Nations team members working across the group.
Advisory Board member and BIG W store manager Lauren Smith, said: “The creation of the Advisory Board and its dense representation of diverse First Nations voices shows the real authenticity the business wants to achieve in supporting and advocating for First Nations peoples - in Woolworths Group and in the community.
“We’re on the journey towards Reconciliation and we all have a part to play.”
Woolworths Group Managing Director of B2B and Everyday Needs and Advisory Board Chair, Claire Peters, said: “The First Nations Advisory Board provides us with the capability to make a meaningful contribution to Closing the Gap, drawing on collective expertise and informed insights to make meaningful change.
“Since we launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2011, we have done a lot of good work but we do not shy away from the fact that we did get some things wrong. We’re listening, and we’re learning from those mistakes.
“As supporters of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, we believe that Indigenous people should have a voice in decisions that affect them. Decisions we make should be made with - and not for - Indigenous peoples.
“This Advisory Board plays a critical role providing counsel and guidance on key issues and challenges of importance to Indigenous team members, customers and communities across Australia.
“NAIDOC Week is a reminder of the proud histories of First Nations peoples and a time to think about how together we can deliver a better tomorrow by elevating Indigenous voices - and making sure they’re heard.”