Embrace Difference NSW Chapter Event

Harnessing positive change with Reconciliation Action Plans

In a pursuit of fostering stronger bonds between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and their non-Indigenous counterparts, the NSW State Chapter of the Drinks Association held a thought-provoking event on Thursday, 11 October, at the Campari Head Office in North Sydney. The focus of the event was the transformative power of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) and the profound impact they can have on organisations.

Reconciliation lies at the heart of this initiative, weaving together the collective advantages that can be seen by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, thereby enriching the tapestry of the entire Australian society. The event sought to shed light on the essence of RAPs, drawing from the real-life experiences of companies that have embraced these plans, and encouraging other businesses within The Drinks Association to embark on their own RAP journeys.

Morgan Flanagan, Events and Sponsorships Manager at Brown-Forman, spearheaded an enlightening panel discussion featuring three distinguished experts. Peter Morris, General Manager of Reconciliation Action Plans at Reconciliation Australia, Rebecca Loch, Sustainability Leader at Lion, and Merlin Chandra, Reconciliation Lead at Endeavour Drinks Group, graced the occasion with their insights and experiences related to RAPs.

Peter Morris, a seasoned non-profit leader with a wealth of international experience, explained the essence of RAPs, emphasising their role in building structures and providing guidance to organisations. According to Morris, RAPs are instrumental in enabling organisations to listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. He emphasised, "RAPs develop with the business as maturity in this space is achieved."

Morris elaborated on the different phases of RAPs, from the initial Reflect phase, which focuses on learning and understanding, to the Innovate phase, which emphasises relationship-building and the development of innovative strategies, Stretch which is focused on longer-term strategies, and working towards defined measurable targets and goals, and finally an Elevate RAP which are organisations that are ready to take on leadership to advance national reconciliation.

Rebecca Loch, Sustainability Leader at Lion, emphasised the importance of aligning the commitment to reconciliation with company values and garnering strong senior support. She stressed the significance of embracing the Uluru Statement of the Heart openly as part of the organisation's RAP, highlighting the centrality of connection in both Indigenous culture and the drinks industry.

Merlin Chandra, Reconciliation Lead at Endeavour Drinks Group, underscored the need to move at the speed of trust. She emphasised that RAPs are not merely checklists but personal journeys of understanding and learning about reconciliation. Chandra also highlighted the crucial aspect of cultural learning and truth-telling, urging organisations to incorporate Indigenous voices in their conversations about reconciliation.

The panel discussion served as an enlightening session, deepening attendees' understanding of the pivotal role RAPs play in the liquor industry. The event was not merely a gathering; it was a testament to the power of collective action and understanding, urging businesses to become active agents of positive transformation.

The Drinks Association and its members stand on the precipice of meaningful change, with the opportunity to create a more inclusive and respectful future. As the event concluded, the echoes of these profound discussions lingered, reminding everyone present to forge ahead on this essential journey of reconciliation.

To find out how your business can start its RAP journey, please visit

About the panellists:

Peter Morris, General Manager – Reconciliation Australia
Peter is a passionate non-profit leader with 15 years of international experience in partnership development, communications, and public policy analysis. He has dedicated his career to building a more inclusive society that values and benefits from the resilience and ingenuity of First Peoples. Peter served eight years in various leadership roles at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the representative body of tribes and Native peoples in the United States.

Merlin Chandra, Reconciliation Lead – Endeavour Drinks Group
Merlin has worked for almost five years as the Reconciliation Lead for Endeavour Group. Her career has spanned both the financial services and retail industries in Australia and the UK, in communication and change management. Merlin has a deep interest in the potential for reconciliation to connect people from diverse backgrounds, lived experiences, organisations and perspectives.

Rebecca Loch, Sustainability Leader – Lion
Rebecca is the Sustainability Leader at Lion, based in Sydney. She is an experienced Procurement and Sustainability leader with diverse international experience in transportation, automotive, healthcare and FMCG. Rebecca has been at Lion for over three years and is responsible for Lion’s Social Impact and Human Rights programs, including the Reconciliation Action Plan, Modern Slavery and Community Investment.


Embrace Difference NSW Chapter Event
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