In 2018-19, YFS continued to contribute by setting ourselves the strategic priority of building on our connections and understanding in our work with First Nations people, communities, Elders and organisations.
As well as our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we undertook an audit of our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and developed an improvement plan.
The audit highlighted strengths including an active Reconciliation Action Plan working group, a positive reputation with the community, a relatively high number of First Nations clients in all services, long-term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, cultural awareness development for all staff, and strong partnerships with Elders and organisations.
We are now working to improve on identified areas including leadership, client retention and outcomes, supporting cultural connections for clients, and more comprehensive staff training and development.
Our actions made an impact in all of our RAP barometers of relationships, respect and opportunities.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander client numbers exceeded the Logan demographics, and surveys show we are welcoming and engaging.
Overall 14% of clients in 2018-19 identified as Indigenous, this figure was much higher in our more intensive case management teams, where 22% of clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Our Indigenous Procurement Policy supported local First Nations businesses wherever possible with increased spending through these businesses, from catering to consulting.
Our collaborations with First Nations community groups continued to strengthen, with 10 partnerships now operating, including closer relationships with Mununjali, ATSICHS and our long-term partners, the Logan District Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Elders. Also, we gained a better understanding of the experiences of our First Nations staff, which has set the groundwork for us to improve our recruitment and support of First Nations peoples.
Our recent improvements include more in-depth cultural training and awareness for all staff from induction and beyond, and greater recognition of First Nations events in our work, such as our organisation-wide commemoration of National Reconciliation Week 2019.
But one of the most visible outcomes of our cultural connections work is proudly reflected in our reception areas and web spaces. Signage and created by local First Nations artist Casey Coolwell of Chaboo Creations and art works by other creatives now proudly welcomes all people to our physical locations. We’ve also featured Casey’s designs on our website and important documents such as our position descriptions.
While Closing the Gap is far from a reality, our work to date has continued to build on our foundations, enabling us to make a bigger impact in future years. In 2018-19, we will further develop partnerships with Elders, communities and organisations. We welcome the emergence of Warril Yari-Go as a collective of Elders to advise and guide the work of organisations and communities in Logan. We will continue to learn from our partners how to make sure our services and our people are respectful and relevant for First Nations people.