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Program offers pathway into home care for Indigenous workers


The first participants of a home care pre-employment program targeting Indigenous workers are set to graduate next month.

The program, run by Australian Unity, offers an innovative pathway into a career in aged and disability care for Aboriginal people who in the final weeks of the ten-week Launch into Work project.

Ken Markwell

Australian Unity Executive General Manager for Indigenous Services Ken Markwell says the Launch into Work program is aimed at building the skills need to enter the aged care sector for prospective workers who have had no previous experience.

The 14 course participants will come out of it with a Certificate II qualification, extensive work experience and the opportunity to begin employment as trainee workers, Mr Markwell says.

The program has been successfully across NSW.

“It’s the first time the program has been run over 10 weeks and trialed in multiple locations across NSW specifically targeting the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Markwell told Community Care Review.

“The 10 week pre-employment program gives participants time to build their confidence and before they commence employment.”

Building a pipeline of Indigenous talent

Mr Markwell says the initiative is not only helping to build a “talent pipeline” of Indigenous care workers, but it is addressing aged care workforce shortages and helping provide employment for people in regional and rural communities.

It also ensures culturally appropriate and safe care for Australian Unity’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island clients down the track.

As part of the program, participants given targeted training in pre-employment projects and are matched with mentors who work with them to increase their skills, experience and confidence.

They will continue to receive mentoring during their employment as Australian Unity trainee care workers and as they complete their Certificate III training.

Employers are required to commit to employing all participants who successfully complete the program.

“Critical to the success of the initiative we have partnered with VTEC (Real Futures) and connected all participants with Indigenous mentors,” Mr Markwell said.

Australian Unity aims to expand the program in the future, Mr Markwell says.

The project was designed with VTEC, Aboriginal Training Pathways (NSW TAFE) and NSW Dept Industry Mentoring programs (NCAP and The Way Ahead).

It is funded through the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Launch into Work program.

Participants will graduate with a Certificate on August 2 at Port Macquarie TAFE.

National award for Indigenous home care program

Meanwhile, the Booraja home care program has taken out an award at the innovAGEING National Awards.

The program, which is currently delivering home care services to 15 older Indigenous people, was developed by IRT Foundation in collaboration with the Walbanga community in the Eurobodalla region.

The program is focussed on training Aboriginal job seekers to provide culturally sensitive aged care, and the leadership team and all care positions are held by Indigenous workers who have completed, or are in the process of gaining their Certificate III in Individual Support.

Booraja won the Realising Wellness and Re-Ablement Award for promoting the independence of older Australians and supporting them to remain in their homes and communities.

The program is helping Indigenous Australians stay connected to kin and country as they age, IRT Foundation Manager, Toby Dawson said.

“Our research shows that there are major barriers preventing many Aboriginal people from accessing and benefiting from government-funded home care services. These include a deep lack of trust in government systems, low levels of health literacy and no culturally appropriate workforce or service models,” he said.

“In developing and delivering the Booraja program, our goal is to help older Indigenous Australians overcome these barriers.”

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