MercyCare celebrates reconciliation journey
National Reconciliation Week was the perfect time for Catholic not-for-profit organisation MercyCare to reflect upon, account and celebrate the reconciliation journey it has undertaken as an organisation.
MercyCare formally embarked on its reconciliation journey during National Reconciliation Week in 2015, with the launch of its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This plan is an important part of mapping out the organisation’s journey and aims to facilitate the engagement of head, heart, hands and spirit that recognises the unique place of the First People in Australia and their leadership and contribution to Australian society. In doing this, MercyCare also seeks to build an appreciation of Aboriginal culture and spirituality, counter the negative dominant discourse concerning Aboriginal people and find ways of working together to promote a shared humanity and future.
As part of the Reconciliation Action Plan, MercyCare has rolled out a number of initiatives in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture across all levels of the organisation. A significant number of employees have attended workforce development sessions on Aboriginal History and Courageous Conversations About Race, while Board Directors and Trustees have undertaken formation work to extend their awareness of Aboriginal history and culture.
MercyCare is also working to increase the number of Aboriginal employees within the organisation. To facilitate this, the organisation appointed an Aboriginal Employment Consultant to create and implement an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy, which was initiated in October last year. The strategy was developed to assist MercyCare to introduce new employment initiatives to increase the existing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff across all MercyCare service areas.
The Aboriginal Employment Consultant has responsibility for overseeing the Employment Support Program for Aboriginal Traineeships at various MercyCare sites throughout the metropolitan area. The Consultant is coordinating the program by organising training workshops and providing mentoring support, regularly liaising with both trainees and workplace supervisors.
These traineeships are being offered to Aboriginal people who have experienced long-term disadvantage in their journey to employment. The trainees are supported to study for their Certificate III in either Individual Support or Early Childhood Education, as well as completing on-the-job training. The program provides a unique and valuable opportunity for Aboriginal people to develop the skills, experience and knowledge to embark on a career either with MercyCare or other partnering agencies.
Lynley Wilkes began her traineeship at MercyCare’s Residential Aged Care facility in Kelmscott in March, and said the program had given her a new direction in life.
“I had been unemployed for a long time, so when I heard that this opportunity was available I jumped at the chance,” she said.
“MercyCare helped make it a smooth transition into the traineeship and working here makes me feel good. My workplace is warm and inviting and the manager is very understanding when it comes to some of my cultural protocols, she makes it a great place to come.”
Eva Hansen is also completing her traineeship at the Residential Aged Care facility in Kelmscott, and said she was enjoying working with MercyCare.
“I’ve found the traineeship both challenging and rewarding,” she said. “The residents at MercyCare Kelmscott have responded really well to us as trainees and it’s a great feeling to be able to care for others and learn new skills at the same time.”
MercyCare Chief Executive Officer Chris Hall said he was encouraged by how far the organisation had come since launching its first Reconciliation Plan and was looking forward to seeing how the employment strategy continues to develop and lead to improvements and outcomes for Aboriginal people.
“At MercyCare, we want to make meaningful contributions to social, health, wellbeing, economic and political empowerment outcomes for Aboriginal people,” he said.
“This strategy is about continuing our reconciliation journey of respecting and acknowledging our country’s First People, their land and their culture.
“We all have a role to play in the different ways we each contribute to the critical journey of reconciliation in this country.”
MercyCare is a leading Catholic provider of aged care, family, health, disability and community services. We employ over 1000 staff and 175 volunteers, delivering more than 40 programs and services, from 35 locations throughout Western Australia.
From pages 18 to 19 from Issue 8: ‘Aboriginal’ of The Record Magazine