j.HUB Study Tour: Collaborating to support the families and children of Ceduna

Background

The community of Ceduna on the Far West Coast of South Australia have set their sights on a new challenge, creating a clear pathway to achieve employment parity. Led by the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation (CAC), the community is working together with the support of the Australian Government to deliver a key community project titled the Family Engagement Initiative.

Moving beyond the harm minimisation strategy of the Cashless Debit Card, a job is a powerful vehicle for a family to build a positive environment for their children, elevate themselves off welfare, and plant the seeds of intergenerational change. Achieving employment parity and elevating families out of welfare is the next major step for the Aboriginal community of Ceduna.

The project is fast tracking a new community-led approach to achieve 100 jobs within 2 years, and establish a broader development agenda for employment, economic development and education.

With this new initiative, the leadership of Ceduna aim to support families, improve the wellbeing of their children and increase participation of vulnerable people in community life. Together they hope to bring support to lift families out of poverty, build pride, increase economic engagement and most importantly foster positive role modelling for the next generation.

CAC engaged j.HUB in 2018 to support the people of the Far West Coast in the delivery of this project. j.HUB is currently supporting CAC and the key project governance team to conduct a survey of families across Ceduna to identify their priorities. j.HUB is also supporting the leadership to engage with industry and to develop a unique development agenda that will help to bring the community together and guide reform.

This project has two goals:

  1. The broader Development Agenda to set the pathway towards family wellbeing – Design a broader community agenda for the next 3 years, focused on strengthening families, building parenting and financial management skills with a focus on achieving job readiness and employment.
  2. Community strategy to deliver quick results – Design a new community-led approach that can deliver tangible results quickly to support our families and children. This strategy will require collaborating with industry, agencies and NGOs, as well as designing innovative new initiatives to overcome roadblocks or disincentives to employment and community engagement.

To support these goals, j.HUB was able to tap into Jawun’s strong relationships with Indigenous leaders and its proven track record supporting the capability build of Indigenous organisations to provide a unique study tour.

Approach

In support of cross-regional collaboration and identifying new ways of working, j.HUB identified Cape York and Inner Sydney as regions for the Ceduna community to see first-hand the issues facing community leadership and their solutions. A study tour was a key step in changing behaviours and encouraging leaders to seek out new solutions, and to engage with other communities to collaborate around common issues. The study tour was further enabled through virtual sharing which helped the leaders of Ceduna to connect with other regions including Shepparton in Victoria. An ongoing connection between leaders provides an opportunity for further discovery going forward as these relationships strengthen.

In July 2019, over 5 days,11 Indigenous leaders from the Far West Coast region, representing Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation, Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service Aboriginal Corporation, Maralinga Tjarutja Inc, Scotdesco Aboriginal Corporation and the Far West Aboriginal Community Leaders Group, travelled to the Cape York and Inner Sydney regions.

The Jawun network in Cape York hosted the group for several days of sharing learnings and culture. The group learnt of the long history of Welfare Reform in the region and the new Pama Futures agenda. They visited Ngak Min Health Service at Djarragun College and learnt about the wrap-around services they provide to local families and students at the college, as well as the college’s Direct Instruction approach to learning and the co-curricular activities based on Indigenous culture that are provided to students. This was followed by presentations and discussions with Cape York Partnership and their Opportunity Hub initiatives, Good to Great Schools and Cape York Academy. The group shared stories of successes, challenges, decision making and visions for the future.

The group spent time with the management and employees of the BAMA Services program for an introduction to the in-house Support and Wellbeing initiative which provides wrap around support services for employees which includes individual case management and personalised support in areas such as primary medical and mental health services, healthy living, legal advice and social and vocational training needs.

The group were also hosted by local Opportunity Hub staff in Mossman Gorge. There, they learnt about the Gateway Centre, a tourism centre for the area providing local training initiatives, and of the successes of the family support services, particularly the Student Education Trust initiative. 

The group then made the trip south to Sydney where they were hosted by the Redfern and La Perouse communities. They were given a tour of “The Block” by Redfern leader and CEO of Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Association, Shane Phillips, and learnt of community-led change initiatives like Tribal Warrior which was set up to create positive opportunities for young Indigenous people. In La Perouse, the group was hosted by Chris Ingrey and Ray Ingrey who shared the story of Inner Sydney Empowered Communities and the La Perouse 2036 Vision. They also met some of the La Perouse Rangers – a program created to employ local Indigenous people to work on country; to care and protect culturally significant marine life and sites. Lastly, they visited Gujaga’s Multifunctional Childcare Centre and heard about their culturally responsive and appropriate early learning services.


Outcomes

The study tour has played a key role in informing the delivery of the project. By leveraging the lessons learnt from the tour, the project team will design a new community-led approach based on community engagement and establish a broader development agenda to support families to stabilise their circumstances and create long-lasting positive change.

As a direct result, Ceduna is currently exploring the introduction of a Wellbeing and Support Mentor program based upon the existing Wellbeing and Support program operated by Bama Services in Cape York. Having engaged directly with this service at Bama Services, the Ceduna leadership had the unique opportunity to identify its value and explore the necessary enablers for its successful introduction.

Participants are leveraging the learnings of other regions and community led responses through exploring the potential of a number of other programs including:

  • The Student Education Trust Program operated by the Cape York Partnership – The Ceduna leadership was interested in how this may enable Ceduna to drive investment from families in their children’s futures.
  • The Employment Broker model operating in Shepparton, Victoria – Participants were interested in the potential to leverage this model to strengthen the existing CDP provider, Eyre Plus (60% owned by local Aboriginal leadership). The program has been successful in creating meaningful employment targets for Aboriginal people and driving improved understanding of culturally safe working environments by employers, while supporting life coaching and career progression of employees. While participants of the study tour did not visit Shepparton in person, the study tour helped establish the necessary connections and uncover the potential of this opportunity.

Participants have also identified their use of the study tour to inform and help drive reform agendas outside of j.HUB’s engagement. Feedback from participants has highlighted the importance of the trip in identifying new ways of working, strengthening their networks and re-galvanizing them to action in their own communities:

“The trip was amazing. It really opened up my eyes, and I started putting some challenges on myself as a leader and the community support that I need to break the cycle of the norms.” – Study Tour Participant 2019

Next steps

Led by key Aboriginal champions of change in Ceduna, this project is an opportunity to stand together and set a real pathway towards improving the wellbeing of the children and families of Ceduna.

j.HUB is continuing to work alongside of the community of Ceduna to deliver this project, and where possible, j.HUB will explore opportunities to leverage the existing Jawun Secondment Program to support the delivery of the vision of the community.  In addition, through participating in the study tour a number of participants have identified their own areas of focus or projects they hope to start up independently to bring change to their communities.