Building Regional Capacity Through Ongoing Organisational Support

Background

Established in 2013 to deliver the Federal Government’s Community Development Program, East Kimberley Job Pathways (EKJP) is a not-for-profit community development organisation co-owned by 2 prominent East Kimberley Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Wunan Foundation and Kununurra Region Economic Aboriginal Corporation (KREAC). It is one of several core employment providers in the region.

EKJP’s essential work in the East Kimberley region is supported by various grants and other community organisations, including Wunan, KREAC and East Kimberley’s Empowered Communities backbone, Binarri-Binyja Yarrawoo Aboriginal Corporation (BBY). However, EKJP expressed a need for secondee support in addressing and solving issues common to all Jawun-supported regions. The identified challenges included leadership, staffing, governance, planning, marketing and website assistance.

Subsequently, 5 Jawun secondees supported EKJP in 2021, including their employment business, Containers for Change (CFC) and their NDIS program, Wayfinder.

Approach

Established in 2013, EKJP has been placing unemployed EK residents in jobs, as one of several employment providers in the region. However, inconsistent funding, challenges in attracting suitably skilled staff to roles, and the organisation’s effectiveness in outreach to unemployed people across the region, has significantly impeded their ability to function as intended. In 2021, two secondees completed projects to assist EKJP in building and sustaining organisational capacity.

Marketing & Communications

In Round 2, May-June 2021, Kirsty Reynolds (Macquarie Capital) produced 4 powerful marketing videos for EKJP to improve recruitment of unemployed people in the region. This project was conceived to address EKJP’s difficulties in:

  1. Reaching stakeholders to improve their understanding of EKJP’s role in community
  2. For employment-seekers, addressing the process of finding, and sustaining, a job under EKJP’s guidance
  3. For employers, addressing ongoing engagement of EKJP employees.

Kirsty’s effectiveness in producing such powerful media content was a product of her devoted immersion into Miriwoong culture in the EK region. Throughout the process of enhancing her cultural awareness, she determined that the voice recorded on these videos should be that of an Indigenous person – someone that viewers, particularly employment-seekers, could relate to. Kirsty found the ideal person in her new EKJP colleague, Hadley Wickham, who is herself a successful client of their employment program. Her voice is now recognised by many and she is revered within the East Kimberley community.

I am so thankful Kirsty asked me to be a part of the video(s). I felt comfortable with her and she didn’t yell at me when I stuffed up a line. She just encouraged me to try again and never give up.”

Hadley Wickham, Corporate Services Officer, EKJP

Business Planning, Human Resources & Governance

In Round 3,2021, Stephen Dargan reviewed EKJP’s strategic business plans, including HR/staffing restructures, a review of their mission statement, values and core operational pillars. Stephen engaged all EKJP staff during his secondment, including partner organisations BBY, Wunan, MG Corp and Kimberley Group Training. Most engagements were one-on-one, and aimed to encourage in-depth, two-way discussions that were centred around organisational capacity building. Stephen also worked with EKJP to establish business KPIs that culminated in several presentations to staff meetings, and the Board. During his secondment, he facilitated Lean Six Sigma training for 2 management staff and mentored several others, including board members. Upon reflecting on the outcomes of these discussions, Stephen said:

“This was probably one of the most memorable and life changing experiences I have ever had. It was so enriching, and I have certainly grown in the 6 weeks. I plan to take my learnings forward to help contribute to Indigenous reconciliation.”

Stephen’s extensive experience in management, board direction (AICD), leadership and training were invaluable throughout his secondment. Plan changes submitted to the board have since been implemented and staff are now working toward a new workplace culture, modelled from large corporates like CBA and Bankwest. Reviews indicated EKJP were above 80% completion of their KPIs post-secondment, with EKJP staff finding a new appreciation for plan purpose in guiding operations. The revised mission, values, purpose, and pillars are more inclusive and take practical consideration of other areas of the business not directly aligned to employment (CFC, NDIS). Overall, across culture, strategy, program delivery, monitoring and evaluation, EKJP are operational and working towards an improved impact within community.

Stephen has been a wonderful example of what it is to be a leader instead of a manager. The practical skills and advice he has given me to support and inspire my team have been invaluable”.

Angela McTaggart, Corporate Services Manager, EKJP

Outcomes

On completion of these projects, EKJP addressed 2 major hurdles: improved business foundations and governance; and ability to reach and successfully deliver to their clients and other key stakeholders.

Practical, regularly revised business and strategic plans with achievable KPIs will allow EKJP to grow in a meaningful way. Guiding structure and membership of the board, recruiting the right staff, creating a culture that encourages long-term employment, and establishing a clear plan to follow that gives all EKJP employees a sense of purpose, community and job satisfaction, will translate to greater staff efficiencies, reducing unemployment in the EK region while creating opportunities for individuals, including their families and support networks. EKJP’s improved culture and productivity will, ideally, result in continued and potentially increased funding.

Additionally, with a strong presence in the community through revised communications processes and strategy, including the new promotional videos, EKJP will become better known and accepted within the region, trusted as a core employment provider with improved reach to the unemployed, in turn improving employment rates across the region.

Kirsty and Stephen’s projects also added value through post-secondment support of the Follow the Dream (FTD) program at East Kimberley College. Kirsty raised enough money within Macquarie to fully fund EKC’s Creating the Dream program (a partner program to FTD) for the next 3 years. Stephen arranged to have 15 refurbished Bankwest laptops donated to FTD annually and raised funds for FTD students to purchase school shoes while on a recent field trip to Perth, which Stephen attended.

Next Steps

To continue supporting EKJP to become a stronger organisation, Jawun will dedicate secondees in 2022 to assist EKJP in revision of their holistic marketing approach (ongoing promotional material production), a HR staffing review and succession plan, and a review of Board role/s, structure and membership. Jawun will also support employment provider collaboration across the EK, facilitated by BBY’s employment roundtable and mentoring programs, MG Corporation’s 100+ Jobs initiative, Wunan’s First Jobs initiative, the Employment Hub based in Kununurra, and other employment providers, including Kimberley Group Training and community initiatives such as Follow the Dream and the Shooting Stars programs at East Kimberley College.