As NAIDOC week celebrations take place around Australia, Therapy Focus staff and guests came together to celebrate the launch of Therapy Focus’ first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The plan, which features artworks created by Aboriginal students from Sevenoaks Senior College, will enable Therapy Focus to better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community, and develop a culture that supports designated roles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.
Therapy Focus Board Deputy Chair Tony Vis reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to building relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, saying that the RAP was the next step in the Therapy Focus’ reconciliation journey.
“The RAP Journey has been a natural progression for our organisation,” said Tony.
“Reaching out into communities and learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture brought out the passion in our staff. It showed us that we still have more to learn about the barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face, and where we can offer additional support.”
Therapy Focus currently delivers services to more than 300 people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Corey Ahmat, who has autism, began receiving support from Therapy Focus when he was in primary school. His mother Barb explained that intervention significantly improved his memory and confidence in speaking.
“After working with his therapy team he was saying their names and retaining information, which was such a big achievement for him,” said Barb.
“He started to talk more, saying the right words and correcting himself when he makes a mistake. We can’t stop him from talking at home now, which is such a big difference and a delight to see.”
Barb explained that there are still barriers that affect many Aboriginal families, like her own, in approaching service providers.
“Families can feel nervous about other people coming in to their homes. They can feel shame about having a child with a diagnosis and judged when others don’t understand why their child is acting a certain way. There are often also fears regarding the Department of Child Protection and being perceived as a bad parent,” said Barb.
“I think building rapport and trust is key to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and will help them open up, put the time in, and ensure consistency in services for their child.”
Click here to view the Therapy Focus Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.
Pictured: Sevenoaks Senior College student, Monica Martin (C) with her parents and artwork, which features in the RAP.