By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
In my office, taking pride of place, is a beautiful piece of Aboriginal art.
It was originally owned by the grandmother of our Mental Health Manager Jannene Thorn, and we were humbled to receive the work along with two additional pieces to display in our building.
Other artworks are also hanging in our foyer and offices. Jannene was taught the importance of her Aboriginal culture by her grandmother through storytelling and says it’s what has made her the strong Aboriginal woman she is today.
NAIDOC Week, November 8-15, is an annual reminder for us to not only stop and reflect on Australia’s Indigenous history but offers an opportunity to reassess our efforts as individuals and as leaders in the space of cultural inclusion.
Displaying cultural artwork is an important step towards inclusivity and diversity as it exposes the viewer to Aboriginal culture and not only normalises but reinforces the significance of multiculturalism and the gap we’re working to close.
It is well known that Australia has not always adopted an attitude of inclusion towards its First Nations people. This year the NAIDOC Week theme of Always Was, Always Will Be. reiterates the fact First Nations people have been the caretakers of this country for over 65,000 years and were the first educators, explorers, farmers, scientists and artists – among much more.
In a workplace environment it’s important that the significance of cultural inclusivity is reinforced, and we’ve all got a role to play in that space. The first step to being more mindful about cultural inclusivity is to accept that it must be a conscious decision. When we wake up each morning we must choose to act deliberately in the face of adversity.
At IMPACT we are constantly working at how we can be a more inclusive organisation. We want our staff and visitors to know that they aren’t just a number, and that we value them for who they are. Each of our staff undergo compulsory cultural training which includes education about First Nations people, because we know cultural inclusivity enhances a workplace and develops people’s knowledge and skills.
Each month at our managers meeting, a key part of our discussion is based on inclusivity and diversity, and exploring whether we are making ourselves as inclusive as possible. We are always asking what we could do better. By holding this conversation on a regular basis, it reinforces our awareness and we become more in-tune with ourselves and what’s happening around us.
Cultural inclusivity also provides a greater reach for our organisation. When people feel safe and seen, they are open to becoming involved in our programs. Whether that be enroling in a training course or asking for support, an inclusive approach means we get to help more people.
While we are mindful and actively practicing inclusivity, there is always more to be done. I encourage you to take on an approach of mindful cultural inclusivity and have the conversation with others. Let’s celebrate our country’s history together.