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Indigenous career pathways at SVCS Toowoomba

07 November 2018

Thursday 1 November 2018 was a landmark day at St Vincent's Care Services Toowoomba, as the facility implemented a new initiative to promote employment opportunities for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

In a first for a St Vincent's Health Australia facility, a Grow Your Workforce campaign was launched to almost 70 Indigenous community job seekers and employment support representatives, made possible through liaison with the Department of Jobs and Small Business and Lead Provider HELP Employment and Training and Community Engagement Team.

SVHA’s Human Resources and Indigenous Program Specialist, Eddie Solien and SVCS Toowoomba Facility Manager, Annette Thurgood hosted an in-depth information session, followed by group interviews for up to 16 full-time and casual positions at the facility.

The program commenced with a social BBQ lunch, run by HELP Employment and Training Community Engagement Team, providing a great opportunity for job seekers and their support agencies alike to get to know others interested in a potential career in aged care in an informal setting.

Lunch was followed by an address by the St Vincent's Care Services Toowoomba Facility Manager, Annette Thurgood, who wove the story of her own journey into nursing and aged care management into the presentation. Annette also encouraged questions from the group in a safe context, enabling applicants to be fully informed about the challenges and rewards of working in the specialist ministry of aged care, finishing with the words that when staff come to work, “they are visitors in the resident’s home” and at all times they should demonstrate compassion.

Group interviews for trainee cooks, food services, cleaning, laundry and assistants in nursing were then conducted by Eddie and Annette, with outcomes and formal offers of employment to be made shortly.

SVHA has a strong commitment to reconciliation, and specifically is focused on increasing recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander trainees and employees across its aged care facilities and hospitals.

The Grow Your Workforce initiative is an example of thinking outside the square when considering recruitment from these groups, with the informal yet structured approach to the day, coupled with great first impressions and support from applicant's peers assisting in enabling applicants to present with confidence and making the day successful.

Additionally, with research showing Indigenous elders are underrepresented in residential aged care settings, the increased presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at all levels as well as culturally appropriate education and awareness could assist in encouraging more elderly Indigenous people to seek support in residential aged care.