Indigenous cultural training comes to the digital age | KPMG | AU
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Arrilla and Lendlease bring Indigenous cultural training to digital age

Indigenous cultural training comes to the digital age

Indigenous business, Arrilla, today launched its first-of-kind digital cultural awareness training, with Lendlease announced as its inaugural client. Lendlease staff will benefit by developing the skills and confidence to employ and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including working on Indigenous projects and with Indigenous communities.


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The program is the first digital cultural competency program to be endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, and the first to generate hard data about the changed attitudes and actions of staff regarding Indigenous Australians.

“Our vision is to create a culturally competent Australia, one workplace at a time,” said Arrilla CEO, Shelley Reys AO. “Expanding our offering from purely face-to-face into digital training enables us to reach a much larger audience, faster. Every Australian deserves to have access to factual, practical information where it relates to their Indigenous counterpart.”

“Ultimately, all Australians benefit from being culturally competent so it’s significant that blue chip company Lendlease is showing the way. They’ve been leading the property and construction industry to be more innovative in their Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) and now they’re leading with the best-practice in cultural competency too. Most organisations think it’s important for the recruitment department or RAP developers to work in this space well, but the reality is that you’ll never change the culture of an organisation unless 100 percent of your staff are skilled and confident to work in diverse teams. It simply makes good business sense,” she added.

An Indigenous woman, Shelley Reys is a trusted advisor to some of Australia’s leading private and public sector organisations and institutions. Shelley’s company has been operating for nearly 24 years and she is considered to be one of Australia’s most respected operators in Indigenous cultural competency training.

Steve McCann, Group CEO and Managing Director of Lendlease said that it was vital to empower staff to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues, customers, companies and communities.

“Shelley has provided face to face Indigenous cultural awareness and competency training to Lendlease since 2010 and her sessions have been in great demand. It made sense that the next stage was to find a way to take these sessions to our people that could not access the face to face training with this new online learning platform.”

Lendlease launched its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), endorsed by Reconciliation Australia as an Elevate RAP, in November 2016. An Elevate RAP signals a commitment to demonstrate leadership in the nation’s discussion about Constitutional Recognition and self-determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and to share experience of both success and failure with the broader Australian workforce – very much a part of Arrilla’s message.

Steve McCann confirmed Lendlease’s ambition of building respectful relationships and creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Our Elevate RAP signifies our continued and accelerated commitment to meaningful and sustainable outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities,” said Mr McCann. “We’ve learned a lot in the last seven years but we’re really only now realising what we don’t know and participation in the Arrilla’s digital program reflects our ongoing commitment to cultural competency development.”

Arrilla’s online training program helps to build the internal capability of an organisation’s staff which, in turn, supports an organisation to achieve their Indigenous targets and aspirations – such as those driven through Indigenous Procurement Policies and Reconciliation Action Plans.

In line with its inclusiveness ethos, the digital training provides accessibility for all staff – with inbuilt capabilities for the sight and hearing impaired.

Shelley Reys highlighted the multifaceted benefits of building culturally competent workplace skills including:

  • Demystifying Indigenous matters by dispelling the myths and understanding the facts
  • It makes good business sense; enhancing outcomes, social impact and brand reputation
  • Decreasing unconscious bias while increasing capacity to engage, and
  • Managing risk by encouraging better work practices.

“From entry-level roles to senior leaders, from corporate to not-for-profit, from private to public, from city to the bush, we all benefit from being confident and competent to work in culturally diverse teams,” said Shelley Reys.

Shelley is the majority shareholder of Arrilla. As the minority shareholder, KPMG Australia provides infrastructure, has developed a customised impact measurement and feedback tool for the digital training platform, and will be placing a portion of profits into the development of an Indigenous Business Incubator.

Arrilla’s digital training will be made available to all KPMG staff from next week in celebration of National Reconciliation Week.


Further information

Marjorie Johnston
M: 0407 329 430

Natalie Campbell
M: 0410838914


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