Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2011 Contents SPONSORED FEATURE
"A range of major IT projects are
underway. We are building on the
residential admissions service, to expand
this to one point of contact where people
can receive accurate information about
Blue Care services," Ms Batten says.
Another area of focus for the new
Executive Director is supporting and
developing the Blue Care workforce, which
she describes as "hugely important".
"We're obviously in a climate of
significant workforce shortages and so to
be the preferred organisation for staff and
volunteers is very important to us."
Ms Batten says she is particularly
proud of Blue Care's long-term
commitment to Indigenous employment
programs (see panel at left), saying, "this
is consistent with our mission and values."
She is also keen to ensure a wide range
of career paths are available for staff at
all levels, and that leadership programs
continue to be rolled out, particularly at
the local level.
"Whether we're talking about
workforce or service innovation, that
balance between local innovation and
empowerment and ensuring consistent
service quality is important.
"It's not a one-size-fits-all organisation.
There are different challenges in remote
Queensland than there are in Brisbane."
Norelle Watson, left,
pays a client a visit.
Over the past decade, Blue Care has
been changing lives and closing the
employment gap through an innovative
Indigenous jobs scheme.
Since its introduction in 2002, the
Indigenous Employment Program
has forged an enviable reputation in
the corporate sector for its ongoing
development and employment of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.
Blue Care has set up cross-cultural
training and mentoring programs,
scholarships and career paths for more
than 180 Indigenous trainees, and aims
to recruit a further 130 trainees and 30
part-time Indigenous employees during
the next two years.
In recognition of its efforts, Blue Care received a 2010
Queensland Government Reconciliation Award for Business
in the Community Organisation Category for its contribution to
promoting reconciliation in the state.
Norelle Watson, Indigenous Coordinator at Blue Care,
says the program originated from a desire to respond to the
disenfranchisement and dispossession of Indigenous people.
"It was about proactively recruiting, selecting and retaining
Indigenous people in the workforce with the aim of improving
access by Aboriginal people to our services and closing the
gap," she says.
The service now has four Indigenous coordinators who
cover the state, including Ms Watson, who looks after Central
Queensland and the Fraser Coast region. She says Blue
Care's commitment to Indigenous employment can be seen
in its recruitment of Indigenous staff who work in a wide
variety of areas, including hospitality, maintenance, care
and administration. Through relationships with the likes of
the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace
Relations, the aim is to create long-term career pathways.
"It's not just about placing people in positions, but having
strategies to ensure people remain in those positions for as long
as they possibly can," she says. "One of the most important things
we do is provide continuous mentorship to Indigenous trainees
and employees. We also work with their service managers to
facilitate career pathways for that long-term trajectory."
In other areas, Blue Care has a scholarship program through
which it encourages careers for nursing staff in health and
aged care in Queensland. The Endorsed Enrolled Nursing
scholarship supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
employees through training, mentoring and development
opportunities while they complete their Diploma of Nursing
studies at a TAFE institution.
"We've got really strong executive support and I think, for
these sorts of programs to work, you really need that top-level
support," Ms Watson says.
She says the employment pathways make a difference
to individuals and their families, and allow people to give
something back to their communities.
"There is a desire to go back and work within their
communities once they have those skills, that confidence.
It's empowering to see them be able to pursue these career
goals that they would not have pursued or wouldn't even have
considered when they first came on."
The benefits of the program resonate throughout Blue Care.
"Our employees are worth investing in and the return we get
is improved access by our people to our services. And the other
upside to this is that we've experienced reduced absenteeism,
increased motivation, more commitment, adaptability and a high
quality of service and higher retention rates. So it has a wide effect."
"Our staff not only provide
services to the community
but they are part of that
community and the disasters
in a community have a
significant impact on
everyone." Robyn Batten,
Executive Director, Blue Care
50 | MAY--JUNE2011 | AAA
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