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Develop Workforce in a Cultural Context in Mount Isa

Develop Workforce in a Cultural Context (DWCC) recently wrapped up in Mount Isa after five months of delivery. This program was developed by the Health and Community Services Workforce Council (Workforce Council) and the delivery in Mount Isa was funded by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC).

The aim of DWCC in Mount Isa was to bring the child and family support sector workforce and community leaders together to collaboratively work towards the building of a diverse and inclusive workforce that is reflective of the community it serves and united in the purpose of empowering families to remain intact, strong and healthy. The program focused on the following priority areas as determined by members of the local community.

Developing a workforce that:

  • Is culturally strong, safe and inclusive
  • Understands the needs of the people they service
  • Collaborates and works well together
  • Provides opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Is skilled, diverse and reflective of the local community

DWCC was attended by a diverse group of participants from services such as child protection, family support, health, domestic and family violence and early childhood who, despite their differences, came together with a common purpose to support and empower their local community and workforce.

The program was facilitated by Rona Scherer and myself (Christine Payne) from the Workforce Council in partnership with Roslyn Von Senden, a Kalkadoon woman and strong local community advocate and facilitator. It is the co-design and delivery of the DWCC program alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local people that makes it authentic.

We met some amazing people in Mount Isa, working in very challenging conditions and impacted by the ups and downs of the mining sector and several government reforms.  Working in a remote area such as Mount Isa can be isolating and it can be particularly challenging for people working in small services that are managed from city areas.

The community in Mount Isa is very diverse, there are many people there from the Northern Territory, Torres Strait, Brisbane and various other places around Australia and the world. This diversity can be of real benefit to the workforce, with so many varied viewpoints setting the scene for creative thinking and innovation.

The participants in our program were a dedicated and creative group and over the course of the program they developed several strategies to develop the workforce in Mount Isa that they will continue to progress, some with our support and some with the support of the Local Level Alliance or on their own.  Examples include:

  • A community and cultural induction program for the health and community industries
  • Staff sharing program internal and external
  • The creation of safe community/workforce spaces for people to come together
  • Employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Many participants also developed strategies to build cultural capability within their own service, for example developing a Reconciliation Action Plan.

Without a doubt, the strongest initial outcome of this program is the strong and collaborative relationships that have been formed across various service types in Mount Isa.  This program shows that when people have shared purpose, time and space great things can happen.

We look forward to continuing to support the Mount Isa group where we can and we are excited to commence the roll out of DWCC in Gympie in August. We would love to have you on board – keep an eye out for information coming out soon.

This is a Most Significant Change story from one of our Mount Isa participants

“My Most Significant Change from participating in DWCC was in our men’s behavior change program.  This program gave me an insight to the local cultural and what is important. I was given a chance to bring it back to their connection to country. It created a great opportunity and connection in the group.  The men are proud Aboriginal men who wanted to share their stories and culture with their children and grandchildren. We could focus on being a safe person and making safe choices so that they can make their children feel safe and share their culture without violence. I have never had a more vocal and interested group. All the men focused on how they can be more like the people they learn from.

The looks on the men’s faces about the thought of telling their stores and sharing their culture. It wasn’t us telling them no, we all worked together to focus on safe ways to pass on our stories. Our work on DWCC contributed to this because hearing people’s stories and history showed to me how important that connection to country is. I have had my eyes opened to new understanding. I will make sure I include it and am respectful about it when I work with local men. Because of this group I have some great new and deepened connections within the community. I plan on asking for assistance in making sure our programs are more culturally appropriate.”

Written by Christine Payne, Workforce Consultant and Facilitator of Develop Workforce in a Cultural Context at the Health and Community Services Workforce Council

To view our cultural capability resources and events visit http://workforcecouncil.eventbrite.com/