UnitingCare Ageing will aim to lift its level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment under a Reconciliation Action Plan launched today.
The three-year plan, registered with Reconciliation Australia and launched during National Reconciliation Week, will see the large NSW provider recruit 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees each year and establish a specific program for graduates from April 2015.
Under the plan, UnitingCare will also offer scholarships from next year to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to pursue further study and ensure that all job vacancies are advertised to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 2.4 per cent of the UnitingCare Ageing workforce (129 employees), with an annual staff turnover of 5.4 per cent.
From June 2015, all UnitingCare Ageing Working groups will have indigenous representation and the organisation will also explore culturally appropriate flexible work practices and strengthen its staff retention strategies.
UnitingCare Ageing director Steve Teulan said the aged care industry had an important role to play in closing the gap of indigenous disadvantage. He said the NSW indigenous population had an unemployment rate close to three times the rate of the non-indigenous community.
“This Reconciliation Action Plan has been developed by UnitingCare Ageing to assist us in enhancing our services and ways of working to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.
“At UnitingCare, we want to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff represented at all levels of our organisation.”
As part of UnitingCare Ageing’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traineeship program, trainees are recruited through a process of engagement with local Aboriginal communities and result in a Certificate III in aged care and Certificate III in Home and Community Care. In the past two years, 40 Aboriginal employees have entered the program.
Access to culturally appropriate services
In addition to these workforce initiatives, the organisation has also committed to strengthening the cultural appreciation training of all staff and has set itself a target of increasing its indigenous clients by two per cent every year.
Reconciliation Australia CEO Leah Armstrong commended UnitingCare Ageing on joining the RAP program, which she said was having a significant impact on building positive relationships between first peoples and other Australians.
The Reconciliation Action Plan also includes commitments to appoint local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ambassadors, to increase UnitingCare Ageing attendance at significant events such as Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week by 50 per cent and to consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture when designing new services.
The organisation’s Reconciliation Advisory Groups will guide the work of UnitingCare and help develop a partnership with local communities throughout NSW and ACT.
For more information on the plan, watch this video: