‘A thirst for more learning’ – Staff development secondments at Yerin

Background

Jawun has partnered with Yerin Aboriginal Health Services Limited in the Central Coast region since 2012, supporting Yerin on a journey of growth in this time. Yerin formed as an Aboriginal Medical Service in 1995 providing a limited GP service to the local Aboriginal community. 25 years later, Yerin now provides a wide range of clinical services (including GP, Aboriginal Health Workers, podiatry, psychological, and midwifery) as well as NDIS services, Statutory Out of Home Care (OOHC), Family Preservation, dental and optometry clinics and a broad range of community programs including family preservation, mental health and drug and alcohol support.

To date, 23 Jawun secondees (including 4 virtual secondees in 2020) have supported strategic, operational and service delivery organisational priorities. In this period, Yerin has nearly tripled their number of clinical patients and staff, whilst expanding the range of community programs and clinical services it delivers to the Central Coast Aboriginal community.

Against this background of growth, Yerin’s CEO (Jawun Emerging Leader Alumni and member of Jawun Stories of Female Leaders network), Belinda Field identified management staff professional and leadership development at Yerin as a Jawun secondment priority area of focus:

“Capability across the Managers and Team Leaders at Yerin varies in skills, attributes and experience. Our strategic vision is to develop individuals that have all of the necessary Human Resources, training, coaching and mentoring skills and knowledge to strengthen the Yerin staff’s capability.”

Approach

In 2020, three secondees from Westpac and the Australian Public Service (APS) completed secondments delivering a staff professional development framework and targeted training and coaching to the management team at Yerin.

In early 2020, Allison Rickett from Westpac completed an in-place secondment to develop a staff development framework, providing a structured approach to the delivery of core leadership competencies, training and knowledge sharing.

Allison drew on legal and HR skills to deliver tailored Employment Law Principles and Performance Management training modules to the Yerin Management Team, with Belinda Field describing the connection between these outcomes and Yerin’s strategic direction, “Allison’s work supports staff capability and growth in line with our strategic vision to increase management capability across the organisation”.

Building on this work, Lee Daniels from APS – Services Australia developed ‘Positive Performance Management’ and ‘Having Challenging Conversations’ training modules. As one of Jawun’s first ‘virtual secondees’, Lee delivered these training sessions via video conferencing, co-facilitating with his supervisor and Yerin CEO, Belinda Field present in the training room at Yerin.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the training and layering of learning, despite the challenges of virtual training delivery, Belinda says, “Lee was able to get key messages across and has provoked a thirst for more learning at Yerin”.

Lee also showed how two-way learning can still continue in the virtual delivery format:

“I went into the Jawun secondment thinking I would be giving something to the community. I think I have learned and taken far more than I have given. The Jawun experience has been humbling to say the least.”

Amy Arbery from APS – Agriculture, Water and the Environment harnessed the thirst for more learning, through leadership mentoring and coaching to Yerin’s emerging leaders Vickie Field (Operations Mgr), Jessica Wheeler (Practice Mgr) and Breannon Field (OOHC Manager). Amy used 1:1 meetings, workshops and activities to support the needs of each individual leadership journeys. The secondment culminated with Amy facilitating a ‘Leadership in Community’ workshop, with  respected Central Coast Aboriginal community leaders, Aunty Maddy McGrady, Vickie Parry and Nerida Blair joining to share their knowledge and their own leadership journeys.

Outcome

Even with the pivot from in-place to virtual secondments in 2020, the benefits of successive secondments building upon prior outcomes was achieved.  Yerin CEO, Belinda Field explains how the immediate tangible outcomes to Yerin arising from the HR related training modules, supported the building of organisational strength and succession planning:

 “Staff capability uplift leads to reducing burn out, increasing outputs, and ensuring safety and legislative requirements are followed therefore reducing the likelihood of adverse employment issues. This hence builds succession planning, back filling capability and builds morale and longevity into our teams”.

Next Steps

For organisations in a growth phase, staff professional and leadership development is vital. As Yerin continues to extend the delivery of critical health and wellbeing services to the Central Coast Aboriginal community, developing the next managers and leaders at Yerin will remain a priority.

Looking to the future at Yerin, Belinda Field explains that staff development priorities include to:

“Build up the existing strengths of managers to ensure their continued professional growth, consolidate current learning and prompt for future growth and development. Building workforce capability to enhance the success of the teams and organisation more broadly”.

Amongst both the staff and leadership at Yerin, it is clear there is a thirst for more learning!