Category: News

Starting the chat with teens, key to online safety

For many parents, carers and educators, the challenge of keeping teenagers safe online is all too real.

But mentoring programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are playing their part in helping to set role models for teenagers as they navigate life, including online.

The Stars Foundation, founded by Andrea Goddard, provides a mentoring program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. Participants work closely with their mentor to develop a holistic plan to make proactive choices for their future.

Darwin program coordinator, Kylie Duggan, says helping the students understand online risks is a key part of the mentoring role.

“As a mentor for the young girls, my biggest worry is the girls not thinking before they post, or not realising the impact it could have on their lives forever. Images on the internet last forever, videos last forever. And if you don’t think before you act it can be very costly,” says Kylie.

Research commissioned by the Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner found 1 in 5 young Australians and 1 in 3 adults have had a negative experience online. 1 in 4 young people report being contacted by strangers or someone they don’t know, while 1 in 5 report being socially excluded online.

The Stars Foundation program has seen first-hand the impacts of social media and online activity with students experiencing cyberbullying, sharing inappropriate images, or even sharing footage of fights.

Seeing the need to protect their students’ online safety as well as their physical safety, the program mentors talk with the girls about ways to stay safe online.

“We help the girls stay safe online by constantly checking in with them, daily. We give them advice about the appropriate steps to take and how to remove things if possible. Letting others know that it’s not appropriate to post those things and prompting our students about the way to do the right things online is an important part of our program.”

Kylie says, keeping the lines of communication open with students is absolutely essential, if you want to help protect their safety online.

“You have to ensure that you build that relationship with the student first. It allows an opening to discuss personal topics with the student. They need to feel comfortable talking to you and opening up to you about issues that they are experiencing online. And it’s something they can always remember and feel comfortable and confident that they can come to you at any time.”

For the program’s young participants, they too acknowledge the benefits of trusted people they can talk to if something goes wrong.

“I chat to my parents because they’re easy to talk to and I trust them a lot. But I also get help to stay safe online from my Stars mentor, my parents, my brother, my aunties, my uncles, my nana,” says Meleeka.

“I think it’s important to talk about online safety because people share a lot of inappropriate things. If we talk about it, we can stop that kind of behaviour.”

“Yeh, it’s so important to talk to someone if you are feeling unsafe online. It can really affect your mental health – but if you talk to someone you trust it can really help,” says Ekyra.

For tools and tips to help you start the chat about online safety, visit esafety.gov.au.

 

Pika Wiya (Sickness no) say the mums and bubs of Port Augusta

300km north west of Adelaide, the Port Augusta community are passionate about helping their mumsand bubs stay healthy and strong.

Pika (meaning ‘sickness’) and Wiya (meaning ‘no’) is derived from the Pitjantjatjara language, one of the many Aboriginal languages spoken in the local area. It’s a fitting name for the Aboriginal community controlled health organisation that has been helping locals stay free from sickness for nearly 50 years.

At Pika Wiya health service, the annual 715 health check is helping residents understand and better manage their health. The local service runs a range of support programs, from birth right through to parenthood, encouraging residents to undertake their regular check.

The Kinderling’s program, run by Pika Wiya health service provides incentives to help encourage mums and bubs to undertake a 715 health check.

Amy Walters runs the Kinderling’s program designed for babies from birth through to six years old. Amy says an essential part of the program is undertaking the 715 health check, right from birth.

“715 health checks on our babies are very important. It gives us a benchmark on where they are at birth and makes sure they’re growing healthy and meeting development milestones throughout their childhood,” says Amy.

“Women are busy, so we look for ways to help encourage mums to bring their bubs in for the 715 health check. We give them or their babies free clothing – we have little onesies, t-shirts, dresses – the mothers love the dresses! It provides a positive incentive to keep coming into the clinic and ensure their and their babies health checks are up to date. While they’re here, we talk to the mums, making sure it’s a safe environment for them to come to to talk about health.”

While at the clinic, mums are provided with information and encouraged to join the Pika Wiya Well Women’s program, offering three weekly group education sessions, counselling and support services to help the mums look after their own health too.

Kerryn Gardner is an Aboriginal health practitioner and team leader for the Well Women’s programme. She’s been with Pika Wiya health service for nearly 30 years, and is passionate about helping the community, especially local mums, stay in good health.

“Mums have to be healthy to look after their baby. We want the babies healthy so they can grow and thrive. Having the 715 health checks is so important for early detection and prevention of illness,” says Kerryn.

“At the Well Women’s House we offer a veggie pack when mums complete their 715. We check blood pressure, glucose levels, height and weight, smoking. We talk about diet and their social and emotional wellbeing. It is a really safe and welcoming environment.

Local GP, Dr Julia Nook, says the 715 health check is a critical first step to engage with patients about their health needs.

“It’s not just about having a 715 health check. We use the initial screening consultations to build trust with our patients, getting to know them and their family. We work together to try and look at issues identified in the health check, like tackling smoking or weight, and when people are ready, we refer them to follow up services like a dietician,” says Dr Julia.

“Sometimes there are underlying issues that might be causing some of their health issues and we can explore those further with patients too.”

Kerryn says the key to Pika Wiya’s success in the community is the emphasis they place on building relationships with patients.

“We help our women and babies stay healthy by providing a medical service that’s friendly and safe, which is so important.”

The 715 health check is free at Aboriginal Medical Services and bulk billing clinics, and is available annually to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available at www.health.gov.au/715-health-check.

715 Health Checks in schools are getting kids on board with their health

If it wasn’t for the 715 health check, Kerry Drake’s children would still be missing school due to chronic illness.

The mother of two from Kwinana says the school health check program run by local Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, Moorditj Koort detected underlying health conditions for both her children, that hadn’t been picked up before.

“My kids were constantly sick before getting the 715 health check. My son suffered croup ever since he was a baby, and both kids had ear infections a lot. They both had a lot of time off school due to sickness,” says Kerry.

The Moorditj Koort schools’ program is delivered in primary and secondary school campuses in the region to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students complete a 715 health check. The annual health check is a comprehensive health assessment, providing preventative and diagnostic screening of patients from physical to social and emotional wellbeing, and is offered to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in a number of schools

Jonathon Ford, CEO of Moorditj Koort says the service was established in response to a need identified by the local Aboriginal community.

“We undertook a community needs assessment and one of our local Elders came up with the concept of the one-stop shop. They wanted a health service they could go to, get information, and support to be able to access multiple services within the community,” says Jonathon.

“So our concept at Moorditj Koort really focuses on this one stop shop. We bring together services across the health system – GPs, Allied Health Services, specialist services, hospitals and health promotion teams – to provide seamless care. It gives our community the overarching view of what’s being implemented and an opportunity for services to work effectively together.”

It was this integrated approach, that Kerry says was critical to getting her children diagnosed and treated quickly.

“Both my kids had the 715 health checks at school. Afterwards, the Moorditj team called me in to the clinic. I was referred to the ENT specialist with both children and they got their tonsils and adenoids removed. It was really quick,” says Kerry.

“I wouldn’t have known what was needed without the 715 health check – it had never been picked up before. Since they’ve had the 715 health check and follow ups, they haven’t been sick, and haven’t missed school – we’ve had no issues.”

Moorditj Koort program coordinator, Carmel Kickett, says the program is important in helping people overcome the barriers to getting a regular 715 health check.

“If an Aboriginal person doesn’t feel comfortable going into a health clinic, they’ll turn around and walk away. Sometimes, people feel that their local health clinic isn’t culturally appropriate and that’s one of the biggest barriers,” says Carmel.

“At Moorditj Koort, we help our community overcomes the barriers they might have to looking after their health. We go into local medical practises and work with GPs and their staff to undertake cultural awareness training or help with providing transport for patients to get to their appointments.

“With the schools’ program, we undertake the 715 health check for students with parental consent. We then help the students and their parents with the follow-up appointments, especially for counselling, dental, ENT – we make sure that each the students get the services they need.”

Moorditj service is also helping to set a positive experience for students and parents to develop long term trust and relationships with local providers. The Moorditj team see this as a critical component of their work, helping people to look after their health independently.

“We’ve found, doing the 715 health checks at schools, the kids are not so frightened to see the GP. When we first started out with the high school kids, none of them wanted to engage with the GP. But now we start at primary school and work up right through high school and we see the children are not frightened, its become part of everyday life to see the Doctor” says Carmel.

Kerry too has seen this change in her own children.

“They do get excited when they’ve had their 715 done. They come home from school with a toothbrush and toothpaste and it’s a little thing but it gives them an incentive to brush their teeth and look after their health,” says Kerry.

“Because of the 715 checks being done early, my kids are not afraid to go the doctors now and it sets them up later in life to have a positive outcome on their health.”

For the passionate team at MoorditjKoort that is the most rewarding aspect of their work.

“Our students are happy to go and speak with the GP now, even when we’re not involved. That’s one of the biggest benefits that I’ve seen and Moorditj Koort has achieved in delivering the 715 health checks with our community,” says Carmel.

“So come on you mob, your health is in your hands. Get your 715 health check today.”

The 715 health check is available annually to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. Further information, including resources for patients and health practitioners is available at www.health.gov.au/715-health-check.

Today R U OK? will launch Stronger Together, a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Developed with the guidance and oversight of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed agency, the campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations by asking R U OK?

The Stronger Together campaign message comes at a time when reducing rates of suicide looms as one of the biggest and most important challenges of our generation. Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A 2016 report noted that on average, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people end their lives through suicide each year, with the rate of suicide twice as high as that recorded for other Australians [1]. These are not just numbers. They represent lives and loved ones; relatives, friends, elders and extended community members affected by such tragic deaths.

Dr Vanessa Lee BTD, MPH, PhD has chaired R U OK?’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group whose counsel has been integral in the development of the campaign.

“Nationally, Indigenous people die from suicide at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people. This campaign comes at a critical time.” said Vanessa.

“As a community, we are Stronger Together. Knowledge is culture, and emotional wellness can be learned from family members such as mothers and grandmothers. These new resources from R U OK? will empower family members, and the wider community, with the tools to look out for each other as well as providing guidance on what to do if someone answers ‘No, I’m not OK’.”

Stronger Together includes the release of four community announcement videos which will preview at a screening event at the NITV Studios today.

The video series showcases real conversations in action between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advocates and role models. The focus is on individuals talking about their experiences and the positive impact that sharing them had while they were going through a tough time.

Former NRL player and welterweight boxer Joe Williams has lent his voice to the series. Born in Cowra, Joe is a proud Wiradjuri man. Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe has battled with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, a phone call to a friend and then his family’s support encouraged him to seek professional psychiatric help.

“That weekend, I had the most deep and meaningful and beautiful conversations with my Dad that I never had,” said Joe.

“My Dad was always a staunch dude and I was always trying to put up a front to, I guess, make my Dad proud. But we sat there, and we cried to each other.

“I started to find myself and that’s when I came to the point of realising that, you know, I’m lucky to be alive and I had a second chance to help other people.”

“When we talk, we are sharing, and our people have always shared, for thousands of years we’ve shared experiences, shared love. The only way we get out of those tough times is by sharing and talking and I hope this series helps to spread that message.”

Australian sports pioneer Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM has also lent her voice to the series. Marcia Ella-Duncan is an Aboriginal woman from La Perouse, Sydney, with traditional connection to the Walbunga people on the NSW Far South Coast, and kinship connection to the Bidigal, the traditional owners of the Botany Bay area.

“Sometimes, all we can do is listen, all we can do is be there with you. And sometimes that might be all you need. Or sometimes it’s just the first step towards a much longer journey,” said Marcia.

 

Aboriginal Employment Strategy traineeships pave the way

Australia’s largest Aboriginal recruitment and Group Training organisation Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) celebrated their 2018 Traineeship and Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony last night in Gadigal Country Darling Harbour, Sydney.

The AES Traineeship and Apprenticeship programs are one of the organisations most successful initiatives creating significant contributions to employer workplaces and to their customer experiences. More than 50% of AES graduated trainees go on to achieve full-time employment with their host employer, while many others go on to undertake university study or further training.

AES CEO, Kristy Masella says, “Our 2018 graduates are re-writing the narratives in our communities to one of strength, resilience, excellence, and innovation. They are all exceptional role models for other young people and should be commended for their achievements.”

To acknowledge this milestone, certificates were handed out to 65 traineeship and apprenticeship participants, and two major awards were announced – The first Les Tobler Program Excellence Award presented to Lend Lease construction Trainee Tarni Proberts-Roberts and the Chairperson’s Award presented to National Australia Bank Trainee Lahkeisha Cook.

The 2018 graduation ceremony featured performances by Muggera Dancers, Aboriginal singer/songwriter, Mi-kaisha, and Aboriginal rappers, Kobie Dee and Nookie.

AES currently works with many corporate partners such as Westpac Group, Wandiyali, Scentre Group, Apprenticeship Support Australia, and Awabakal in delivering Traineeships and Apprenticeships.

Jess Gale Support Unit Co-ordinator from Wandiyali comments, “We have been working with AES since May 2016. It’s been an absolute pleasure to create a fantastic partnership and friendship with the AES and we appreciate the ongoing support in giving us trainees who have become invaluable staff members and have brought Wandiyali a long way.”

Over the past 21 years, AES has provided more than 21,000 employment opportunities and 2,500 Trainee and Apprentice programs to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in urban, regional and remote locations. The Traineeship and Apprenticeship programs provide coaching and mentoring, alongside hands-on paid work experience with a host employer across a range of employment sectors and industries.

AES Commonwealth Bank Lismore graduated trainee Darcy Clarke says, “There were many times I had enough of school, but working at the Commonwealth Bank really got me through to finish. I was getting paid and could see a future for myself in the workforce. The best part of the traineeship was being out in the community. It made me feel good being acknowledged by the local Aboriginal people who came into the bank regularly. The traineeship made me realise I want a job to help the community.”

AES hosted annual graduation ceremonies in Sydney and in regional locations across Australia. The graduation events showcase the talents of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and provide a platform for them to encourage their peers to follow in their footsteps and aspire to careers, not just jobs.

AES CEO Kristy Masella adds, “Through supporting Indigenous people into careers, we have reinvested millions upon millions back into local communities and have been a solid investment for the government as a transformation strategy. We have walked shoulder to shoulder with our communities to regain hope, aspiration, pride, and self-determination. This is our story”

The AES has over 95 new traineeship opportunities available for 2019.

COMPANY BACKGOUND

The Aboriginal Employment Strategy empowers Indigenous people through brokering employment opportunities and supporting candidates to have successful careers through mentoring, coaching, training and specialist support.

Over the last 21 years, AES has led a transformative, social and economic movement that has been highly successful in changing the narratives in our communities to one of excellence, opportunity, partnerships and deadliness!

The AES now operates 13 offices nationally.

Link to images

Business hub to inspire Indigenous entrepreneurial spirit

A program to help Indigenous businesses grow and succeed was launched in Albury on Wednesday 5 April by Charles Sturt University (CSU) in conjunction with the NSW Government and its Boosting Business Innovation Program.

The Walan Mayinygu Indigenous Entrepreneurship Pop Up Hub, developed by CSU Associate Professor Michelle Evans, aims to further nurture Indigenous businesses across NSW in 2017.

“Walan Mayinygu, which means ‘strong for people’ in Wiradjuri, is about strengthening Indigenous entrepreneurship and business nous at the regional level in grassroots firms across NSW,” explained Professor Evans from the University’s Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences.

“We are hoping to engage and inspire Indigenous business people and those thinking of going into business by offering workshops, master classes, opportunities to present and pitch their business ideas, trade shows and networking events, with the help of established Indigenous entrepreneurs.

“We aim to amplify regional dialogues on Indigenous entrepreneurship and encourage strong, resilient businesses and business owners.”

Professor Evans is well placed to lead this program, having co-founded the Melbourne Business School’s MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Program, a business leadership development program for established Indigenous entrepreneurs.

As part of the Walan Mayinygu program, Pop Up Hubs will visit communities for one week at a time in Dubbo starting on Monday 28 August, Albury from Monday 9 October, and Port Macquarie on Monday 5 March 2018. A date for Lismore will be advised after the recent floods.

“The roaming Pop Ups will overcome geographical isolation to provide productive spaces for individuals and communities to generate their own business ideas and ultimately build momentum for the Indigenous Australian entrepreneurial sector,” Professor Evans said.

During each Pop Up visit, entrepreneurial education and practical workshops will be delivered by appropriate experts and successful Indigenous entrepreneurs, including alumni of the MURRA Indigenous business master class program.

In addition, the Pop Up Hubs will improve access by participants to government departments, private firms and not-for-profit organisations to develop business relations; bring designers, developers and entrepreneurs together in ‘tech hackathons’ to encourage networking and collaborative work; provide opportunities to work with customers to hone sales skills; and provide co-working spaces.

Once the Pop Up moves on, participants can continue to engage with the program through the Walan Mayinygu website.

“For Indigenous communities, economic empowerment through job creation and business development and innovation is recognised as a key factor in closing the inequality gap and improving health outcomes and quality of life for Indigenous Australians,” Professor Evans said.

Research from the Australian National University showed that Indigenous self-employment has almost tripled between 1991 and 2011, increasing from 4 600 to 12 500.*

“This Indigenous entrepreneurial wave needs nourishment through business education, business connections and business incubation,” Professor Evans concluded.

An exciting start for 33 Creative under the Indigenous Procurement Policy

On 4 November 2015, 33 Creative signed the contract with the Australian Civil Military Centre (ACMC) in a ceremony at their offices in Queanbeyan.

The contract marks the beginning of a strong relationship with ACMC, which was fostered under the Indigenous Procurement Policy and signals a first for both 33 Creative and the ACMC.

ACMC has demonstrated leadership by approaching and engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to develop and produce its upcoming Leadership DVD using the Indigenous Procurement Policy.

Dr Ryan stated that ‘the signing of this contract with 33 Creative is a very exciting opportunity for the Australian Civil-Military Centre to access the Indigenous suppliers program. As a small organisation we need to source outside expertise, such as that offered by 33 Creative, to produce high quality resources for Australian government agencies and for the international and non-governments organisations that we work with,’ said Dr Ryan.

This contract was a great example of the move to encourage supplier diversity and to build new relationships between the public sector and private sector providers. Dr Ryan pointed out that the contract represented a good match of organisations that shared a mission to innovate and whose skill-sets were strongly complementary. He noted that it was very much a ‘win/win’ partnership.

Signing the contract Dr Ryan stated that ‘the Australian Civil-Military Centre is proud to enter its first contract with an Indigenous firm and we look forward to the delivery of a DVD that will be an outstanding tool to educate future mission leaders in offshore operations.’

The Indigenous Procurement Policy has been instigated by the Australian Government from July 1st 2015 as a method of further engaging and developing Indigenous business within Australia. The Policy’s aim is to drive demand for Indigenous business thus improving wealth, independence and employment. It prescribes Commonwealth agencies to meet annual purchasing targets from Indigenous businesses. To find out more go to www.dpmc.gov.au/ipp

An exciting start for 33 Creative under the Indigenous Procurement Policy

The opportunity to work with the ACMC would not have arisen without the Indigenous Procurement Policy.

33 Creative Directors Mayrah Sonter and Georgia Cordukes were both at the signing.

“This is an exciting project for us as it is our first project outside of the Indigenous community. It is a great opportunity to move into other content areas and develop relationships with new clients,” said Georgia.

“We feel we are well placed to work alongside the ACMC on the upcoming Leadership DVD, due to our understanding of complex environments gained from working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communication space,” Mayrah said.

The lead up to the signing of the document has been a great process, working closely with the ACMC procurement team to ensure the contract works well for both parties. Time has been spent developing and clarifying expectations of the project and its content on both sides. There is an understanding that the project will be undertaken in the style of partnership between 33 Creative and the ACMC, and it already feels like we are welcomed into each other’s families.

33 Creative is looking forward to working with the ACMC team on this project and developing our presence within the mainstream communications sphere as well as strengthening an already positive relationship with the ACMC, and most importantly producing a great product.