Deadly employees from leading Australian organisations took centre stage at the 3rd annual ‘Getting on with business, employing Indigenous people’, Reconciliation Week event coordinated by WISE Employment in partnership with the Northern Indigenous Employment (NIE) working group.
As the lead partner and event coordinator, WISE Employment brought together a strong crowd of 140 employers, students, job seekers and representatives from community, government, health, employment, training and educational organisations.
Key themes for the day were Aboriginal recruitment and training success stories and the importance of culture in retention and safety in the workplace.
A highlight of the event was hearing work stories from ten Deadly (meaning good) Aboriginal employees and students from leading Indigenous employers, training programs and educational institutions.
Their stories were honest, raw, uplifting and at times, emotional. Stories about inspirational mentors – people who had helped these employees, both professionally and personally, to pursue positive career outcomes.
They spoke of the prevailing reason they chose to stay with an employer – namely Aboriginal culture is respected and is visually and actively promoted in my workplace.
Linc Yow Yeh, Coordinator for the Jim-Baa-Yer Indigenous Higher Education Unit at Australian Catholic University said “because workplaces have historically not been safe spaces for Aboriginal people, we are seeking employers who are developing culturally immersive work spaces.”
New Victorian Aboriginal Community Service Association Limited (VACSAL) employee and Deadly Yakka program participant, Matthew Douglas, agreed saying “my workplace is like getting up in the morning and going from one home to another, from one family to my other family.”
Korin Gamadji Institute’s, Aboriginal Employment Program Manager, Liz Allen, called on employers to ask themselves: Why are we employing Aboriginal people? Are we ready to engage the Aboriginal community and develop relationships with Aboriginal service partners?
Award-winning Indigenous employer and valued WISE partner, Australian Red Cross, supported this saying “key to our organisation’s success of growing our Aboriginal workforce from 1% to 6% has been meaningful Aboriginal community partnerships and creating leadership pathways for our Aboriginal employees to lead our employment and recruitment strategies.”
The day was a showcase of the growing interest in Aboriginal employment and the aspirations of employers and service providers wanting to improve employment outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Nicole Findlay with Unity print by Karen Lovett
During the event, Nicole Findlay, WISE Specialist Project Manager, received prized Aboriginal artwork Unity by Gunditjmara artist Karen Lovett. The presentation was made to Nicole for her long service and commitment to improving Aboriginal employment outcomes and coordinating the multi-award winning NIE partnership since 2008.
The story behind the Unity artwork is deeply moving. It describes how Aboriginal twin sisters, Karen and Sharon Lovett, as children were state wards in the White Government system and despite being removed from their community, Sharon kept her Aboriginality, but Karen lost her connection to culture. In the print Karen is the white snake and Sharon is the black snake. The egg represents them starting a new beginning back with the Aboriginal community.
On receiving the print artwork, Nicole said “This story is the greatest gift of reconciliation I’ve ever received and I will proudly cherish and share it for the rest of my life.”
WISE is immensely proud of the integral role it plays in coordinating the ‘Getting on with business, employing Indigenous people’ event and remains strongly committed to raising awareness of effective Aboriginal recruitment strategies, servicing the needs of Indigenous employers and working alongside Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal partners who share our long-term ambition to achieve sustainable employment for Aboriginal job seekers.