News • 21 Mar 2019

The importance of a culturally aware workforce

We spoke to our new Indigenous Engagement Officer, Yvette, for Close the Gap Day 2019, to find out why it’s important to have a culturally aware workforce.

Since Yvette joined Open Minds in 2016, she has always enjoyed working with Indigenous Australians and has a passion for delivering cultural awareness training to others. Yvette is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander herself and is from far North Queensland.

Yvette began her journey with Open Minds nearly three years ago working for the Community Re-Entry Services Team (CREST) in Townsville, but in January 2019, she moved to Brisbane and bought her valuable skillset to the mental health sector instead.

Yvette’s key responsibilities include working with the internal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) team to continue commitment to the RAP over the coming years, and partnering with indigenous organisations to provide the best support for our Indigenous clients.

In her new role, Yvette uses her background in education to work with employees to improve cultural awareness and capability. 

Yvette said: “Working with staff at Open Minds to educate them to be more culturally aware is important because it means we’re enabling our staff to be more culturally capable when working with Indigenous clients.

“When it comes to training, the way it’s delivered is just as important as the content, because the way it’s delivered can make a huge impact. Training delivered badly can cause more division, compared to well-delivered training that can bring everyone together on the reconciliation journey.”

A typical day in Yvette’s role might involve: working with her Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) clients, having networking meetings to develop partnerships, and attending community events.

With a passion for mentoring, coaching, and educating others, Yvette is determined to raise awareness to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Having worked with prisoners in Townsville, Yvette said: “When you think of the journeys these people have been through and all the trauma, it humbles you and you realise that you can never judge another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

“I am looking forward to taking my learnings and experience into this new role and to start delivering training to my colleagues within Open Minds, to enable us all to come together as a unified force for reconciliation.”

Close the Gap Day has been running for 10 years with the objective of raising awareness of the need to close the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islander people live, on average, 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians.

Open Minds offers Mental Health, Disability and Specialised supports.  View the full range of services provided by Open Minds here.

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