This year’s National Reconciliation Week 2017 theme was ‘Let’s take the next steps’.
During the week we reflected on three significant milestones in Australia’s Reconciliation journey. The first milestone occurred 50 years ago when the 1967 Referendum made history. Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution and include Aboriginal people in the census. Twenty five years later in 1992, the historic Mabo decision saw the High Court recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights to the land – rights which existed before British settlement, and 20 years since the Bringing them home report was released, which acknowledged the impact of the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.
To celebrate the theme ‘Let’s take the next steps’ we spoke to Department of Human Services staff member Jenny Moorhead, who works as a Service Officer in Darwin.
Jenny joined the department in 2015 as part of the Indigenous Apprenticeships Programme (IAP), which is a 12 month entry level program that offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians an opportunity to start their careers in the public service.
Prior to joining the IAP, Jenny gave up work to look after her three children. After being out of the workforce for nine years, Jenny felt it was the right time to take the next steps in her career.
“I put in the application thinking I’d be able to receive some valuable feedback on my application” says Jenny.
“I actually got a call-back and got an interview, and after the interview I got the job”.
Being out of the workforce for so long Jenny had some self doubt at first, but she continued to push forward.
“I didn’t know how I could apply any of my skills to the position. With my self doubt I wondered why they gave me the job.”
“But I thought, have a little bit of faith in their choices and have a bit of faith in yourself, give it a try.”
Jenny is really passionate about the work she is doing, especially helping people with self service.
“I love that I go to work every day and help people. Even if it’s in the smallest way, you get to help someone and that feels so good.”
“Self service gives me a lot of satisfaction, because I can sit down and explain to people how much they can actually do for themselves” she explains.
Jenny explains the advantages of having Indigenous Australian staff members when assisting people and the importance of cultural awareness.
“My family has a diverse background, my dad immigrated to Australia from Italy and I claim my Aboriginality on my mum’s side, the Woolwonga tribe in the Northern Territory.”
“Knowing the history and having that in the back of your mind helps you better serve people.”
“It’s really helpful to have Indigenous Australians as staff, because they actually understand the cultural differences” she says.
Jenny is asked what National Reconciliation Week means to her.
“To me Reconciliation Week means remembering when and how we got our voice back.”