Creating a supportive community.
We have recently had the opportunity to sit down with a young Indigenous man seeking employment and listen to the barriers he has been facing in terms of gaining employment. Everyone has a story to tell and his is sadly all too common. Listening to his story gave me mixed feelings but more so frustration.
This young Indigenous male has spent some time incarcerated and now finds himself battling a journey of securing a job, not just any job but a sustainable one. Let’s call him James, for the purpose of this story. We all know Indigenous people have a higher rate of being incarcerated compared to non Indigenous people. In 1989 incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased to 12 times faster than non-Aboriginal people, so you can only imagine what the rates are now in 2020!
Indigenous people face many barriers within our society but here we’re speaking of an Indigenous ex-offender facing more barriers such as lack of education, training, job-readiness, skills, and unfavorable employer attitudes. I established my business to create opportunities for Indigenous people leading to sustainable employment opportunities, by creating and building job-ready programs to assist higher rates of Indigenous employment and participation. Part of our service offerings is also creating relationships with Indigenous communities and non Indigenous businesses for any future opportunities.
Part of our job-ready program is mentoring to build Indigenous worker retention, we not only advocate on our participant’s behalf but we listen without being judgemental. We listen to understand and we listen to assist in creating and building a pathway for their individual success. Barra-gi is a word from the Kamilaroi language meaning to fly or soar, we have created a positive community to assist in our participant’s journey of gaining their wings to fly and strive for success.
Hearing James tell me of his frustration in searching for a job left me just as frustrated, to understand his journey and see the hurdles he faces is exhausting and it’s not me running his race. I spoke to another person today along the lines of transgenerational trauma and the impact this has on our up and coming generations. By Barra-gi creating a culturally safe place to speak, gain tickets and complete our job-ready programs which lead to employment we are able to assist James and others like James in gaining confidence and skills and empowering them to keep pushing forward whilst we walk alongside them in their employment journey and break down barriers together.
Whilst I can understand unfavorable attitudes from employers I can hear so much passion and determination when James speaks. His confidence has been beaten a little but his attitude is still strong and finding such resilience in someone who has walked a tougher path than most is inspiring and gives me a better understanding as to why I will continue to walk beside our Indigenous job-seekers who face a few more hurdles than most.
I am a firm believer in change and believe people can change, we are currently working on creating a program to assist people like James who face the extra hurdle or two and would be excited to gain your support. We have put a call out previously for businesses who have current vacancies to reach out to us so we can assist in sourcing applicants, we are putting out another call of support for businesses to assist us in continuing to create this supportive community to assist our Indigenous participants who are facing challenges, and require support to assist in their employment journey. Let us not only source applicants but let us create job-ready programs that instill confidence to create job-ready Indigenous workers to fill vacancies within your business.
Let’s walk together to make a positive difference in the lives of Indigenous people and break down barriers together.