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Listening to voices around Australia through MacKillop's RAP consultation

MacKillop staff travelled to Port Hedland in the Pilbara region (in the north of Western Australia) in September to consult with the local community as part of our Reconcilation Action Plan (RAP) development process.

Home to our Aboriginal foster care program in partnership with Wirraka Maya Aboriginal Health Service, MacKillop’s Port Hedland office hosted local community members and staff in this latest RAP consultation.

The RAP program provides a framework for organisations to support the national reconciliation movement. A RAP is a strategic document that supports an organisation’s business plan. It includes practical actions that will drive an organisation’s contribution to reconciliation, both internally and in the communities in which it operates.

RAP consultations have taken place so far in MacKillop sites at Bateman’s Bay, Bega, Wollongong, Port Hedland and across the central west of New South Wales, and the consultation process will continue with further meetings scheduled across the country throughout.

Managed by MacKillop’s General Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Development, Esmai Manahan and RAP Development Manager Roger Pugh, the RAP will embed reconciliation at the heart of MacKillop Family Services and will drive the work we do within local communities. Esmai says the consultation process is about transparency, honesty and truth-telling.

The RAP is our opportunity to listen and to listen locally to knowledge within communities. This process is a once in a lifetime opportunity for MacKillop to understand how to develop honest and respectful relationships within the communities where we operate.

– Esmai Manahan, MacKillop’s General Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Development
Esmai Manahan Standing In Front Of Aboriginal Flag

Much of the work we undertake promotes connection to culture, like the collaborative partnership between the Nugel program and MacKillop’s Northern Metropolitan program in Victoria. Nugel is an initiative of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), which accepts responsibility for decision-making and case planning for Aboriginal children and young people on child protection orders.

12-year-old Scott* has been in a MacKillop Home Based Care placement since he was 3 years of age. He attends a special development school and regularly sees therapeutic practitioners to support him with his presenting behavioural challenges and mental health issues. In addition to the support provided in relation to his health, emotional wellbeing, education, social and self-care, Scott’s care team made all attempts to provide him with opportunities to connect with both his family and culture.

In March 2018, Nugel became case managers for Scott. Scott participated in the development of his cultural plan and there has been a notable increase in his connection to culture. Nugel supported Scott to feel comfortable to engage in cultural events such as NAIDOC week and he has attended a VACCA camp. Scott has also been linked with a male Aboriginal mentor who has become a positive role model for him. Contact between Scott and his maternal family has improved, and he now has increased contact with his mother.

Nugel and MacKillop have worked together to create an environment that is collaborative, culturally sensitive and supportive, encouraging Scott and his care team to work toward common goals in a safe and supported manner.

The RAP process will further enhance collaborations like our partnership with VACCA to promote true reconciliation and ensure the voices and knowledge of the community informs the work we do.

*Name changed to protect privacy.