What We’ve Been Doing
The 2019 financial year yielded some encouraging results for RA Tas despite the interruption to our lives and the challenges to our workflow in the face of COVID-19.
We covered some important topics as media campaigns and approaches throughout the year, such as homelessness. This time last year more than 74,000 Tasmanians were living below the poverty line. Homelessness in Tasmania had risen 21% in the past five years. Families that were experiencing homelessness were disproportionately more likely to have also experienced economic, health and social risk factors.
And then, in March this year the COVID-19 situation that had previously been unfolding in other countries quickly changed to something that we were experiencing first-hand. We faced incredible challenges in responding to the pandemic and what the response has asked of each of us, both personally and professionally.
We faced incredible challenges in responding to the pandemic and what the response has asked of each of us, both personally and professionally.
It prompted many of us to think about the importance of expressing gratitude, which doesn’t mean ignoring the bad things. It means not letting the bad things cloud your vision to the point where you can’t see, or notice, the good things around you. Academic, psychologist and author Lea Waters suggests we “sit alongside the bad”, so the good can be let in too. So we talked about these sorts of issues through social media and talking points for the local press, and tried to shape our focus for communication to the general public around practical strategies for resilience and recovery.
This year has made us think more than ever about strategies for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing to assist us to stay calm and grounded as we reach out to our allies and provide support to others in turn.
And we have learned strong lessons about supporting one another. One of the most important things we highlight is simply finding the time to check in with those around you. Finding the time to reach out to someone if you’re concerned about them or think they might be doing it tough.
It is against this backdrop that we have persevered with our work here at RA Tas, and what now follows is a summary of some of our achievements against our operational plan over the last financial year:
Walking Together project
2019 saw RA Tas embrace the Walking Together project from the Relationships Australia Indigenous Network (RAIN). This plan seeks to create a culturally safe organisation that supports and enables our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to thrive.
The Walking Together project seeks to create services and programs that work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.
We support the idea that there can be strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and self-determination, as well as healthy and safe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people who have pride in their cultural traditions and optimism for the future.
We want to see culturally and spiritually strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families that are safe and economically secure. Additionally, we support the need for safety and respect for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We begin with the Walking together project, our destination is one that recognises that respecting and nurturing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a benefit for all Australians.
Keeping Strong, Let’s Talk
Due to the success of the Aboriginal Parenting Orders program and requests and inquiries from clients and stakeholders it became evident that there was still a gap in service need.
An exciting new workshop series was developed to focus on strengthening the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of Aboriginal People in Tasmania and to enhance their understanding of ‘self’ and the impact of this in a relationship breakdown. The program has a clear focus on Aboriginal people who have experienced separation and family breakdown particularly with high conflict.
This year has made us think more than ever about strategies for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing to assist us to stay calm and grounded…
When family separation occurs, particularly where there is conflict, it affects each member of the family; it is the effects of conflict that can have a lasting negative impact. This program focusses on strengthening the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of individuals so they can begin to repair and heal on a deeper level, allowing parents to not only be better at co-parenting but better able to provide and model healthy emotions for their children. This results in happier and healthier children and young people despite the family breakdown.
‘Keeping Strong – Let’s Talk’ expands on the areas already covered in the Parenting Orders Program workshops and explores the areas more fully from the perspective of self and the importance of recognising strengths in order to rebuild. It uses the idea that thoughts influence feelings, which in turn influence our actions. Participants learn how to self-reflect in order to gain a better understanding of how and why they react in particular ways and situations. This enables them to better communicate and manage their interactions with their ex-partner and therefore benefiting their children.
Quality Assurance project
The adoption of a Quality Management System has assisted RA Tas to improve the organisations overall performance whereby, all employees participate in improving processes, services and the culture in which they work. The potential benefits of the design and implementation of a documented Quality Management System based on this standard are:
- The facilitation of opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction.
- The ability to address risk and opportunities associated with the organisation’s context and objectives.
- The ability to demonstrate organisational conformity to specified Quality Management System requirements.
- The ability to consistently provide services that meet the customer’s requirements, which helps instil confidence in the organisation.
- The ability to meet organisational requirements, which ensures compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and the provision of services in the most resource efficient manner, creating room for expansion, growth and profit.
The scope of the quality project has been informed by best practice principles aligned with AS NZS ISO 9001-2016, which is a Quality Management System International Standard and the ASQ Total Quality Management System.
SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY Youth Reference group
SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY has wanted the involvement of a youth reference group. Finally, in late 2019, and with thanks to the support Stay ChatTY receives, that became a reality and Joel Berry was welcomed to the team. Joel has a Bachelor of Social Work and carries a real passion for mental health issues.
Joel assembled a network of young people with the goal of providing insight into the Schools Program and other youth focussed initiatives.
During COVID restrictions the Youth Reference Group met virtually long before they were able to come together physically, as a team. Finally, post-restrictions, the group came together for a special evening and were able to share their passion for the Stay ChatTY mission.
RA Tas welcomes the Youth Reference group to the Stay ChatTY team, and we look forward to the valuable input this team can provide.
Funding for Elder Services
RA Tas recognises that demographic, health and social changes over the last century have resulted in an ageing Tasmanian population with increased complexity in family structures. This has created an environment for a potential rise in ageing-related family relationship issues.
With the support of the Legal Aid Commission, Advocacy Tasmania’s Elder Abuse Helpline and the Council of The Ageing Tasmania RA Tas made an application to the Tasmanian Community Fund in 2020 to provide a mediation and counselling services for older Tasmanian’s at risk of or experiencing elder abuse.
Three years of funding was secured for the Elder Services program through a Community Wellbeing Program funding round provided by the Tasmanian Community Fund. This followed a successful trial which ran for 12 months in Launceston and other sites around Australia.
This enables RA Tas to establish an elder-centred mediation and support service that provides a safe and supportive pathway to resolving conflict and addressing elder abuse, that empowers and protects the rights of older Tasmanians, while supporting their families and carers to plan for their future wellbeing.