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Carers Queensland getting real about reconciliation

May 29 2019

Carers Queensland has a long history of getting real about reconciliation, and this National Reconciliation Week the organisation is re-committing to walking together with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Debra Cottrell, Chief Executive Officer of Carers Queensland, says the organisation has extended the Stretch phase of their Reconciliation Action Plan for another year to ensure ongoing commitment.

“As we approached the end of the organisation’s Reconciliation Plan for 2016-2019, we saw that given the extensive growth within the organisation in the last year, there was still more we wanted to do in this phase of our Plan,” Ms Cottrell said.

“In consultation with Reconciliation Australia, we have decided to roll-out another Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan for the period 2020-2022.”

The stretch phase of Reconciliation action planning is about implementing longer-term strategies and embedding reconciliation initiatives into business strategies to become business-as-usual.

Carers Queensland has committed to work hard to build greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history and to build stronger partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, and organisations.

“We live this commitment in a number of visible and practical ways,” Ms Cottrell said. “We read the Acknowledgement to Country at the start of every community event or meeting we host and significant internal meetings; we have invested in ongoing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness training and professional development opportunities, and we actively seek out and use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services and businesses.”

“This National Reconciliation Week each of our sites will be holding an event for staff that shares the stories, and history, of their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and continues to build our employees’ knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and their courage to connect with Australia’s oldest culture.”

“Currently we have approximately 3.5 per cent of our workforce who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander,” Ms Cottrell said, “We hope to see more join our teams.

“As the state organisation representing carers and a partner with the NDIS delivering the Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community program, it is crucial that we ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’.

Aunty Lilian Burke, a Butchulla/Kabi Kabi woman and Aboriginal Elder and who has been sharing her stories and knowledge with Carers Queensland staff, wants more people to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness.

“All organisations should have a better understanding of the impact that colonisation had,” she explained.

For Aunty Lillian, a better future is one where Aboriginal culture and custom is understood by everyone, where Aboriginal people and communities are supported to the same level as mainstream communities, and where there is obvious and enduring equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Carers Queensland hosts and participates in regular internal and external Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events such as National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC celebrations, working closely with key groups and individuals to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the community who are carers or have disability.

Photo Caption: The 11th anniversary of the National Apology in February 2019 was another opportunity for the organisation to share more about Aboriginal history and culture with the team at the Carers Queensland NDIS LAC PTIC Program office in Maroochydore.

From left to right- Louise Taylor from Carers Queensland; Aunty Lillian Burke and  Sean Connelly from Carers Queensland.