Putting Access and Equity into Practice: Inner Southern Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Regional Collaboration Project, Minonndi Tappa Inbarendi

Staff involved: Catherine Hurley and Megan Kyriacou

The "Putting Access and Equity into Practice: Inner South Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Regional Collaboration Project, Minonndi Tappa Inbarendi" is now completed. The project aimed to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in developing community driven and culturally appropriate mainstream human services in the inner south of Adelaide. The evaluation found that a number of successful strategies to identify and involve the local Aboriginal community had been undertaken by the project including:

  • A survey of community members regarding the use and appropriateness of mainstream services, conducted by the project and analysed and reported by SACHRU
  • A survey of staff members of the five agencies regarding their contact with the local Aboriginal community and services provided, conducted by the project and analysed and reported by SACHRU.
  • A number of cultural days and community events designed to bring agency staff and the community together
  • Formation of an ongoing Aboriginal community advisory group to continue the collaboration with the agencies

The evaluation included interviews with the Project Advisory Group members and a focus group with Aboriginal communtiy members in the final months of the project. Findings concluded that the project was able to identify and link with some sections of the inner south Aboriginal community through a number of strategies, including outreach visits by the Aboriginal project officer using existing community links, developing a database of people identified and the survey and focus groups conducted by Aboriginal workers and community members.

As a result of these activities and the cultural days, more Aboriginal community members became aware of and, in some cases, became involved in project activities. This in turn led to valuable input from these community members about the accessibility of services, the needs of the Aboriginal community and ways in which these two areas could be addressed.

The main barriers to Aboriginal people accessing mainstream services included things such as:

  • past and present negative experiences and racism,
  • a lack of information about what services provide,
  • a lack of frontline Aboriginal staff,
  • shyness and a lack of confidence and
  • bureaucratic restrictions including age limits, waiting lists and paperwork.

Suggested improvements for the services included:

  • the employment of more Aboriginal staff, especially in reception areas,
  • appropriate cultural awareness training for staff, including more welcoming and less judgmental attitudes in some cases and
  • use of Aboriginal posters and artworks to provide a culturally comfortable environment.

An action plan and a number of specific activities have been devised in order to ensure sustainability of the project's achievements beyond the end of the short-term funding. These include regular BBQs to be held with the community, a newsletter, the Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies and a joint agency/community reconciliation committee.

The project report and the evaluation report were launched on May 28th, 2004 as a part of Reconciliation Week activites.