Speaker: Mark Watego, Managing Director and owner, Meeting Place Consultancy.
This presentation focuses on how cultural capability contributes to the creation of a mentally healthy and safe workplace. Mark will draw on his extensive experience in the area of cultural awareness training and consultancy to explore this and related workplace strategies. He shares his expertise in the importance of understanding cultural differences, and recognition of issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This session explores cultural capability from a strength perspective and dives into beliefs, unconscious bias and the importance of language and culture.
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Queensland Safe Work Month virtual event where we're gonna be exploring cultural capability to create mentally healthy and safe workplaces. My name is Nicole Hughes, Principal advisor, Psychological Health Unit, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. In the spirit of reconciliation, I'd like to acknowledge the original owners of the lands on which we are engaging in this event and pay my respects to elder's past, present and emerging. Firstly, we're going to have a look at the integrated model for creating mentally healthy and safe workplaces. So this is a four part model where we look at promote, prevent, intervene early and support recovery. The presentation today sits in that promote component along with things like policies and procedures, your capability development, any sort of awareness raising, being a positive role model and your consultation and communication fits in there as well. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Mark Watego, Managing Director and Owner of Meeting Place Consultancy. Mark's indigenous owned and operated business delivers training and consultancy services nationally. He's worked alongside Mental Health First Aid providing consultative feedback for the indigenous programs, Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid and the upcoming Indigenous Youth Mental Health First Aid program. We're pleased to have Mark here today during his extensive experience in the areas of cultural awareness, training and consulting. He's passionate about what he does and I know we're gonna learn a lot from Mark today. There'll be an opportunity to ask Mark questions at the end of his presentation and thank you to those who already submitted questions for our registration process, welcome Mark.
Thanks Nicole, I'd like to thank both you and Lauren for the opportunity today to come and speak about culture capability in the workplace. As you mentioned, this is my company Meeting Place Consultancy and today we're going to be broaching some of those subjects around cultural capability, around mental health in the workplace and keeping safe and how we keep ourselves strong within the workplace and how to provide that culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. But before I go any further, I just want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today and pay tribute to elder's past, present and emerging and the traditional owners here, the tribal people. Before I go on, I'd just like to share some of the things and experience that I've had and the opportunities that I've had to work in my own community. I've worked in areas such as health and aged care along with youth programs, working for my community and I've also studied my diploma in community services, that's what I've applied my trainer in the community services. I'm also a qualified TAE trainer and at the moment I'm delivering the Cert III in Community Services along with delivering Mental Health First Aid training right across the country. I'm currently contracted to NESA to deliver that mental health training. They also have a remote schools attendancy strategy that I deliver training to schools across the country and as I said before this is my company Meeting Place Consultancy. So today, the things that we wanna cover, we wanna talk about some culture, we wanna talk about what cultural capability looks like, I wanna talk a little bit on reconciliation action plans and the importance they play in an organization. We wanna look at cultural communication and then to finish off we wanna talk about some mental health and social-emotional wellbeing. So in terms of culture, what is culture? That's the question is, what is it? And I've just put together a little explanation here. Culture is formed in us by our influences, our surroundings and environment that shapes our beliefs, values, perceptions and our identity. It's the things we've learned and we've been taught directly and indirectly by family, friends, peers and others within our sphere. This three points that I'd like to address in terms of cultural engagement which I would believe that are very important. Cultural sensitivity, you know, this is very important, it's the ability to recognize differences and understand that these differences are very important to that person. Cultural humility, this is something that's important too, it is that when we're engaging with other cultures is to put ourselves in the state of humility as the learner and to understand the person's story and experiences, it's theirs and so if we are truly interested in engaging then the whole point is about putting yourself in that learner position. And cultural safety so when we talk about safety, we have to think about for indigenous peoples, the consideration of the historical context and also the social context, we wanna think about things that there might be words that could be trigger words that may be harmful to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people that we may use that we're uncertain of and so we wanna address some of those things and we'll talk to that a little bit later in the next couple of slides. We talked about cultural capability but what does that look like? The ability to communicate sensitively and respectfully across culture, the capability to understand, to acknowledge and respect others whose beliefs, values and the way of life and doing things a different to our own and capability is the ability to collaborate effectively with people from other cultures to achieve a common goal. They're just some of the aspects that I believe in terms of cultural capability that you have the ability to do those things and communication is one of those big ones, that's the one that we want to learn is to communicate sensitively and be aware. I can recall a situation where I assumed that a person was of a certain culture and I found out very quickly that I was my assumption was wrong and so I learned in that time not to assume and to be very sensitive to people and their culture. So if we look on an organizational level, what is a Reconciliation Action Plan? And this is important because we're not only looking at in terms of workplaces, we're not just only looking at the individual but we're looking at how workplaces might frame their cultural responsibilities or their cultural inclusiveness. And so a reconciliation plan is a framework for organizations to support the national reconciliation movement within Australia. It's an organization's commitment to reconciliation and developing relationships within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and stakeholders. What are some of the things that can be addressed? And I broke it down into this. So a reconciliation plan can assist an organization to reflect upon current practices and then address where change is required. So it might address things like policy, it might look at its codes of practice and the implementation of cultural events and the implementation of an employment strategy so then some of the things an organization might look at to address reconciliation. It is also a process that Reconciliation Australia, they will assist and mentor organizations that are interested in developing a Reconciliation Action Plan for their organization and so they will help monitor and just mentor you through that process should your organization be interested. So let's have a look at this, we're talking about cultural capability let's look at those things, unconscious bias. Now, I wanna address this because this is a very important thought process because this is all about our biases and what we believe. So understanding on a personal level, understanding your own bias, beliefs, values and views, because that can then affect the way that we are conducting our business with others and so on a professional level be aware that unconscious bias can affect your performance. Knowledge and understanding of other cultures so if we're saying that we're culturally capable, we've got this knowledge but where do we find this knowledge? So interacting with your local cultural center, researching on the internet, there is so much information now in this day and age of nations across this country, you know, if you can't find anything, well then you're not looking at enough because there is plenty of information to be able to educate yourself but also connecting with locals within your region and within your area. Again, if you look hard enough you will find that there are cultural sites of significance, there's cultural places, there are a lot of cultural businesses now that are popping up around the country and so we can go in and we can ask questions and seek out your local people and who they are and what are their strategies or what are their culture is in for that area. So in terms of professional in knowledge and understanding an organization might do its cultural capability training and train it's staff, it may well engage cultural experts to come on board and discuss cultural competence. Develop communication, I believe communication is one of the biggest areas that we need to work on when we talk about cultural capability because the words that we use, the language that we use and it's important to know that in terms of English, now English for the the communities that I traveled to across the nation, in some cases English is their fourth and fifth language, it's not their first language and so I've applied myself to try and learn some of the languages such as Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara and don't get me wrong, they can be difficult languages to learn. I know a little bit of my own personal language which is the yugambe language but English is certainly for people in the central area of Australia, it's not their first language so just to be aware that words that we may use can also be misinterpreted, words that we use can also not necessarily translate directly to indigenous languages so you'll find that people when they speak, if you speak a certain term to an Aboriginal person, they may take time to draw an analogy because there may not be a word within their language that speaks to a lectern there may not be a word for that so they may draw or maybe thinking in their minds about a certain analogy and a way to describe what a lectern is in their language. So learning about a language is very important, learning about nonverbal language, you know, and the way that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use their body. So I know in the, in the central areas of Australia that, you know, it's it's rude to point, we don't point. When a child has been summons, it's not this way, it's this way. So there's just little things like that understanding what verbal and nonverbal cues are and yeah, apply yourself to learn. When I was with the indigenous interpreter service within Alice Springs a lot of the non-indigenous staff, they could speak the language quite fluently so I was very interested and very intrigued by their level of knowledge and understanding and ability to speak the language. So, you know, on an organizational level, so if we talk about promoting culture through posters and paraphernalia and things within the Office, that's another thing that can help on a professional level or on an organizational level. And then when we come back to our attitude, our own personal attitude and how that is towards others and towards other cultures, being open and having the opportunity to show that you're open to learning new things and open to understanding from another person's point of view. And then lastly, in the organization, it might be around developing policies that are inclusive that accept and strengthen diversity in the workplace. So there's a whole group of things there and again, it goes back to our Reconciliation Action Plan within an organization on how they would address cultural inclusiveness and embrace diversity within their workforce. So I wanted to address this because in my training I like to do this because this is very important. When we talk about our interaction with others, sometimes our focus can be just on the other person as opposed to focus on our own reactions and the way that we think and so unconscious bias and they call it unconscious bias because it's things that are deep seated within us, values and beliefs that if we're not self-aware we can be making judgments or we can be influencing the way we do things by our own beliefs and by our own values and it's very important when we interact with others as you all well know that being non-judging mental is very important when we interact with other people and we look at some of the things that can affect cultural engagement. This one here, unconscious bias is just being aware of your own beliefs and values and I know this was very important for me as a social worker that when I was interacting with clients, it was very important that I was going in with a non-judgmental attitude. Otherwise, then I was not doing service to those clients and providing them service without being judgmental. This is a little activity and where you are today, I'd like you to do this little activity now. It's a self-reflection activity, it's a little bit of narrative therapy, is to write down a belief that you have an ask yourself these three questions, I normally do this with my students because then it gives them a good view into their own beliefs and why they believe this, ask yourself those three questions, where did this belief come from? Why do I believe this? And why is this belief important to me? And if you'll be interested and you may well ask yourself and question yourself, why do I believe this and where did I get this belief from? And so when we reflect on that and to know that beliefs can be formed over many years and values can be formed over many years and so where they came from you may find that you're quite surprised where that belief actually came from. All right, I wanna change tack here for a little bit and we'll talk about cultural communication. What is cultural communication? So in terms of understanding language, if we look across this country and if you've ever seen a map of Australia with the indigenous boundaries of different clans across Australia, you'll know that there are quite a number of them and so there are approximately 250 to 300 indigenous dialects in Australia so there's a lot of dialects. I know when I travel into central desert the interpreter service there, they have workers there that can speak 10 different languages that are in that region because these guys actually go into the courts and they do interpretation and interpret for the clients and for the judge within the court system and so they're very good at knowing those 10 different dialects. So just imagine, you know, that's just only in central desert around Alice Springs so you can imagine around the country. I know within the Yugambeh language there is a number of different dialects within the Yugambeh language and the Bundjalung language and so it's important to understand that there are a lot of different words that can be used in this way, again we need to be very sensitive to the words that we use because they can have different contexts within different communities. Again, English language doesn't translate directly to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander language so just remember that, when you're speaking a word it may not necessarily be translating straight across. Indigenous language is in the concrete form. I noticed this when I went to Central desert that it is very concrete form thinking, it's not in the abstract and so when we think of things like a sentence like the kangaroo was eating the grass, the concrete part of that is kangaroo grass eating and that may be the order in which they speak it because they're talking about the concrete, the things they are absolute that they can see and the abstract part is the eating part and so just be aware that that can be the form of thinking. The picture in our mind may not be the picture in someone else's mind. This is important, we might think the big truck and we might see the big truck like this but another person's big truck might be like this. So just to be aware that the pictures in our mind may be totally different to the person or to the persons and what they're thinking. And for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people the thought process is in the here and the now in chronological order. So if you think about traditional cultural people, the main concern was the day. So if you think about survival and living in the bush, the only thing that was of concern was today and getting food and getting sauce and looking after your family for that day, tomorrow would take care of itself. There are other cultures around the world if you listen to, I believe it's the Muslim culture and part of their goodbye is inshallah which means if God wills meaning that they live in today not tomorrow, if God wills it they will do that tomorrow. And so same for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people it's very much about the here in the now and staying in the present moment. All right, let's look at some barriers to effective cultural communication because this is important, this can be the reason that a person will engage and the reason why they won't engage, let's look at some of those things. Assumption, racism, discrimination, minimizing, unconscious bias, stereotyping. So these are just a few things, I've just highlighted those ones because they can and in my time as a social worker I saw how those things began to put up barriers to people communicating and engaging with me. When I made assumption about something, if I was making a judgment on something based on my own views or my own beliefs, it caused the person to close up and be defensive and so it's very important when we're engaging with people that we are aware of these things and as we may not be aware that we're doing some of those things. So if we're looking at the barriers but we wanna look at the effective process, understanding, awareness, awareness of self and others. So yes we talk about the the awareness of others but our own self, are we ready to engage with people at this time? And that's important. During my mental health training, there is a process that we have for Mental Health First Aid and it is all about assessing and it's assessing for danger and I also make a highlight to the participants to be aware of their own self and aware of their own health at that time and their own mental health because if they're uneasy in any way, if they are going to assist somebody in a mental health situation and they're not well themselves then sometimes it's not always good to engage and maybe get someone else to engage to help. So and the same in this cultural communication being aware of our value system and being aware of our state of mind when we're engaging, being respectful, acceptance and an open attitude, non-judgmental and we all know, look these are basics of 101 of communication I know, however they can either be the reason that you effectively engage with people or they can be the reason that people will have their defenses up and so we wanna have that non-judgmental attitude and to be able to engage effectively with people. And empathy, empathy is so important, being inclusive, having that empathy and understanding placing ourselves in people's shoes and knowing that, well, they've come from a different culture, they've had a different journey and story, they've had different challenges in their life and so, you know, imagine what that is like for another person, you know, how would I feel if I was in that position? And how would I react if I was in that position? So we want to avoid those things, we wanna avoid the stereotyping, we wanna try instead of stereotyping, try seeking out information on the person's culture and where they're from, get some information, you know, ask some questions, seek people out whether you might be able to find some information. Trigger words, I just wanted too highlight this too as well. Trigger words are very important because they can be words that we assume are helping words or they might imply assistance and I'll bring this to your attention, there's one word that I know in Northern Territory that is a trigger word that implies and we would imply that it is helping people in its intervention. Now when I used that word when I was training and all the Auntie's basically looked at me and they glared at me and informed me that I don't use that word here in that community and they said that that word implied to them, intervention implied to them that it was the removal of children and removal of their families. Another word that my wife used in Toowoomba, she used the word mission statement. And the word mission the Auntie's said to her, please do not use that word because it reminds us of the missionaries and where they came and removed their families. And so these words in English language, mission statement is yet that's a vision of where we're going, where we're going to, we're going to do this, we're going to do this, and this is how we're gonna write it out and this is how we're gonna plan it out but for other people these words were trigger words so it's important to get some of that knowledge and to understand that yes that we might have words that imply help. And another one is hospital, for traditional owners within remote communities, hospital can be seen as a place of death and it's a place where you go and you don't return. And so those things, you know, for us now you might say, well Mark what about you? You know but, you know, if you think of where I've come from and the community that I've come from, we've been assimilated for us for a long, long time and so we've learned and I've have grown up in schools where I've learned English and unfortunately, I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that I only know a little fraction of my language but you know, that I've been assimilated for quite some time but for traditional people in remote communities some of these words still have negative connotations for them and so just to be aware that when we encounter people, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people just be aware of our words. Slang is also another English term, you know, colloquialism things that we would take for granted maybe offensive to other cultures. And so I recall a lady who was from another country and a friend said to her, I'll just pop that up on the window and she looked very stunned and said, what does pop it mean? So, you know, just those little things can be misunderstood or not understood. Let's be aware of those what we assume, our words can be what we just accept as everyday language may not necessarily be everyday language for someone else. Assumption, I think we all understand the assumption. Asking questions first, place yourself in the seat of humility. It is one thing I've learned and I know that for Canadian people, it's very offensive if you address them as being American and so I've learned and my question now to them is, I'm a little bit uncertain about your your accent, what is your accent? And this has helped me in addressing a person when I can't actually pick the accent. So in terms of assumption I think we're all aware that, again, this is a 101 in communication, it's not something that were very well aware of, it is asking questions first and place yourself in the state of humility and I think we all know about assumption. Alright, let's take a look at social and emotional wellbeing because this is important. This is the way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will address mental health, it is our social and emotional wellbeing. Because if that's in place, then everything else transcends from that and so we'll look at a few things that keep us strong. First of all, let's look at our own window of tolerance and this is a term within mental health and if you have a look, I've drawn a little window there with a straight line through the middle but then there's all these lines, the little squiggly lines that go up above and go down and I've had it described to me from a psychologist who says that we're on a spectrum and our emotional state can be a little bit up and down at times, you know, and however we, you know, we have highs as you see the the high tips and then we have some lows and we might have some low lows but usually it will come back into that center line and will normally around that even keel. And so and then if we're operating outside of our window of tolerance, we have our strategies, we have our ways that will help us bring us back to an even keel back to towards that center line. And so that window of tolerance is just helping us to understand, yeah, we do have moments of of highs, you know, we have exciting times or we do have moments of sadness or being down and so what do we use? What are the strategies that we use to keep us humming along or around that center line and keeping our social and emotional wellbeing well? So if we talk about and I talk a lot about this in terms of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people because this can then highlight maybe some of the things that when we talk about trigger words and we talk about those things, what trauma can affect, it's important to know the effects of trauma and that's regardless of whether you're Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander or non-indigenous, whatever, trauma affects everybody and it affects people in different ways and just a few of the ways that we can talk about trauma because this is all trains lights to our performance too as well. We're gonna look at some of the mental illnesses that may affect people as a result of trauma and how that may affect at work because then that will translate to the workplace and noticing just certain a way a person may act or interact and if we understand and understand a person's journey and if we see that there is trauma then that will help us to understand when we're engaging with people. So in terms of trauma, trauma for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples has been experienced in many different ways and we'll talk a little bit about that. Trauma can affect many generations and how have we seen that? We've seen that with our soldiers that have been overseas and have seen horrific things and they've come back with post-traumatic stress disorder. So trauma can affect many generations, we've seen it with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people in terms of stolen generation. Trauma can result in mental health issues. So trauma can result in delayed reactions to the traumatic event so we've seen how detrimental trauma can be. Traumatic events and what may they have been for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people. Stolen generation, the forced removal of children, that have had traumatic effects upon females and our males within our communities. The loss of kinship, family members relocated to missions. Indigenous deaths in custody. So when we talk about some of these things, we have to understand that Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people are very family orientated and the kinship structure within Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities, these deaths in custody can affect fathers and mothers if you know anything about kinship and that all the aunties and uncles of the children are considered as fathers and mothers so those children are as their own and so when we have these deaths or when we have these removals, we affect a whole kinship structure. So it's not just the immediate mom and dad that is affected or the immediate child that is affected, it is a whole kinship structure that is affected and so these things can be quite traumatic. Racism and discrimination, loss of culture and language, the dispossession from land and culture. So all these things have been traumatic for our people. Common mental illnesses so when we look at some common mental illnesses, let's look at those, 14%, anxiety, 6% mood disorders, 5% alcohol and drugs. So these things are considered in terms of I've got these statistics from Mental Health First Aid Australia and I've referenced that down the bottom. In any one or two year, sorry, in any one year two in 10 Australians aged between 16 and 85 will experience a common mental illness, now that's right across the board, that's not an indigenous statistic that is right across the board so that's two in 10 Australians. So that's a fifth of our population so what are we? Something like 25 million people so that would be 5 million people that are going to experience a common mental illness, that's a lot of people and so these statistics are from Mental Health First Aid Australia. So we have anxiety, anxiety is our biggest common mental illness and so two in 10 people so if you're in a room of 20 people, there's four people that are gonna suffer from that anxiety disorder or that mood disorder or the alcohol and drugs and in terms of Mental Health First Aid Australia it has now recognized that alcohol and drugs can be a mental health illness. Anxiety and I wanted to address these, these I feel are important because when we look at that statistic that's a lot of people and the anxiety can translate to our work performance and especially for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people if they've experienced any form of trauma and experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it's important to recognize some of these symptoms and some of these behaviors and to know that, you know, this can inform our practice in our communication and in our engagement and helping us have empathy for the person to understand what they may have been through. So if we talk about four areas in terms of mental health, we talk about thinking, emotions, the physical and the behavioral. And these things because if it affects your thinking and it continues to affect your thinking, it will then translate to your emotions, your emotions then begin to play out in your physical being which then in turns affect your wellbeing. And so if we look at these things, if we look at the thinking and what might be happening in a person's thinking, they might be excessive fear, they could be worry, they could be sleep problems, they could have trouble making decisions so that's what's going on in a person's thought process. If we look at their emotions, they could be on edge, they might be impatient, might be nervous or angry so these can be things in terms of emotions. The physical then it could translate to shaking, hot and cold flushes, heart palpitations, a change in diet and then behavior, they might avoid things because of anxiety, they might have phobias or might be obsessive in their thinking and alcohol use that could be a result so we can see things of self-medication to try and help and quell those fears or those feelings and so that's why I wanted to highlight these things because they can translate into the workplace, they can translate into your performance and also how we engage with people because we may have things like excessive fear, there might be a fear of engaging with people, a person may not have slept the night before due to this anxiety and so if they're tired and they come into work they're tired, you know, their physical being might not be as sharp as what they normally would be and so that's why I wanted to highlight those things. You know, it might be in, you know, why is this person avoiding me? Or why is this person having these obsessive thoughts? Or I've noticed why this person is starting to use alcohol a little bit more than what is normal and so some of these things, again, like I said, they can impact on our performance at work and in our engagement at work. We talked about other mood disorders and depression because again, this one here also can affect our performance and in the thinking the four domains, again, thinking, emotions, physical and behavior. If we talk about thinking and we think about decisions and how they might, we think that confusion could be a part, poor concentration so if you're asking an employee or a person to, you know, that it requires them to concentrate on a certain task, it might not be there due to this depression. They might have memory trouble so all the thinking, all the thought process that you need to perform or to engage maybe like this, their emotions might be sad, irritable, anger, there may be guilt. And then in the physical being, the result could be tiredness, there might be weight issues, no energy, not sleeping again. And then in a behavior for depressed person with depression it might be crying, withdrawal, no joy, not looking after themselves so if you think about those things, how they can affect that engagement and it's important and understand and have that empathy if we start to see some of these signs, that is also going to assist us with our engagement. What does and I've added this in here, what does strong social and emotional wellbeing look like for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people? And so these are some of the things that I've just highlighted and that I've noticed as in my travels and what traveling around the country, relationships, kinship structures, so important. I know those families, they're so important and so partners, friends, relatives, social connections, your teammates, work colleagues, culture, community, art, dance and music. I have been to some of the best artists in this country, they're absolutely amazing and up in Ramingining, up in Northern Territory, there is some absolute genius artists who paint the most beautiful artworks that I've seen in my life. Dance music, our hobbies, sport. Sport is another important one for Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people, rugby league I know for for on the east coast of Australia and in Queensland and New South Wales rugby league is a massive part of our culture and bringing people together, we have the Koori knockout and the Murri knockout in Queensland and the Koori knockout in New South Wales and that's where just masses of our people from our communities go and play sport and that's one of the things that keeps us socially and emotionally well. Exercise, meditation, now in the in Northern Territory it's called dadirri. Meditation dadirri is that deep learning and that deep thinking and one of the Auntie's she goes around the country teaching our people about the dadirri and about that deep meditation and that deep thought process and how that affects our wellbeing and how that keeps us connected to country. Relaxation, social gatherings and there's one thing that that draws people together and that's social gatherings where food is a big part of that and in cultural time so back in traditional times food sources were very important. And so on the east coast of Australia right from Victoria all the way up to Central Queensland, there was a season where there was enough fish in the ocean and it was Sea Mullet season and the people from the inland countries would come down to the coastline and they would seek out permission. And just while we're on that note, the importance of the Welcome to Country, now this morning I did an acknowledgement to country because this is not my country here so I can do an acknowledgement but when I'm on my traditional lands I can perform the welcome and the part of the welcome was in terms of these social gatherings was that there was one of the tribal men who would go to another tribe and he would be sent by the elders and he would seek out permission to say get permission from this other tribe to enter their territory because they wanted to trade and so the Sea Mullet season was a very important season and people from the inland would come to the coastline because there was enough sea mullet and fish during that season to feed a lot of people. And so down and if you know the border of New South Wales and Queensland right on the ocean, there is a little place called Kirra. That place was a lookout for where the sea mullet would come in very close to the shore and Aboriginal people would go down there and they would take the canoes out and net all the sea mullet and bring them in and the inland people would then join in feast and they would have these gatherings and on the east coast of Australia there were a lot of midden sites. Now a midden site is where they've had their feed of fish and of oysters and shellfish and they put them in a pile and these are called midden sites and we have one, if you ever go to Burleigh Heads in Tallebudgera there is an old midden site that has been identified as being anywhere up to 40 to 50,000 years old and that is right on a walkway. So that mountainside has been identified and it is now protected and so that was just one way of gathering and one way where traditionally how a tribe was welcomed into their community. So in traditional times, you just didn't go in to another tribes area and start going about your business, you had to seek out permission and that was what the importance of a Welcome to Country was, you were welcomed by those people and, you know, these things were all about trade so we did have business within our communities and part of that business was was the food trade and the wood trade where we would have across the country where wood would be bought from other parts of the country and traded so that they could have food and engage in that Sea Mullet season that festivity. So social gatherings are a huge thing so in terms of today, if you put food on I'm quite sure that you'll get a lot of asmarines come along for a feed together but yeah, that's another important part of our social and emotional wellbeing. Our employment, our career, our skills, these are also important parts of our social and emotional wellbeing and as I'm sure that they will be all part of yours too as well and that there is gonna be a lot of similarities that you see in this list here that you will say, well yes this is what I do too as well to keep myself socially and emotionally well. Okay and just to finish off, what does self-care look like for you? And that's an important thing. When we have our self-awareness and the great saying is know thyself and knowing what works for you, what is it that keeps you strong? What is it that keeps you well? What is it that keeps you mentally sound? And ask yourself those things, what do I do to keep myself within that window of tolerance? When I have had a bad day, how do I then bring myself back to that even keeled emotional state? And so what does that look like for you? And I know for me it is, you know, if I've had a day, there's time where I just need time to myself and to assess and to think about my day and just give myself a little bit of time to think about things, play music, go for a walk, walk the dog, you know, those are some of the things. And I recall when I was working at the health service and it was quite interesting that we, at one stage, we weren't eating all that well and here we were working in a health service and we were dictating or preaching to everybody else about looking after themselves and eating well and so it became a challenge to the health workers within our service that if we are to be speaking to others about health and wellbeing that we need to practice the same thing. And so that became my challenge and I began to ride my bike to work and at first it was about the physical fitness and looking after my body physically but I came to work out that during that time when I was riding my bike, I'd get home and my wife would ask me if she's there, what What did you do today? And I had to stop and think and reflect and actually really think hard about what I'd done in the day because the bike riding had helped me to switch off from my thought process from work. And so then the bike riding, my bike riding became not so much about my physical wellbeing but it kind of became about my mental well being that I was able to, in that process, I was able to actually switch off from work and I think that that's part of the key. I've been on the end of worker burnout and I've understood what that is and now developing strategies that keep me well and keep me mentally sound and so when we turn off from work, is do we truly turn off from work? Do we switch our minds off? And are we present with our family and our friends or are we still thinking about work when work has finished at five o'clock? So that's the question is, what does that self-care look like for you? I know that that was what it looked like for me to begin with and I'm still developing those strategies but what does that look like for you? And maybe you can ask yourself those things. But I'd like to finish on that note and thank you all for listening today, I believe that Nicole has some questions for me and so I'd like to welcome back Nicole.
Now we're going to start with some questions. We'll do our best to get through as many as we can. Here is one we have received from Sam and her question is, what are the key factors to consider in relation to cultural safety when collaborating with Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander people?
Yeah, good question Sam. Look, the key factor here is doing your research and, you know, finding out some information about the people that you're actually working with, I think that's a key strategy for you is knowing the community that you're working with if there's some key person and usually those key people are elders. If you can find an elder where you can find some information first, that's always a good step and then also communication, communication and we spoke about communication in the presentation, that's a key move for you in terms of your engagement because as we as we spoke about, you know, not understanding words and what they mean and you know, that that you may be using words that imply help but for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that may not necessarily mean that so just yeah, just do your homework first and find people within that community and that region that you're working in and go from there.
Thanks Mark. Now, the next question is from Christina, is there an organization that has implemented a successful system in place that fosters an inclusive and safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? If so, can you speak of the organization in this model?
Thanks Christina, thank you for your question. Look, unfortunately I can't name names, however what I would encourage you to do is there's a organization called Reconciliation Australia. Now they develop Reconciliation Action Plans for organizations that want to show their inclusiveness, show they're diverse workplace and organization and so they will often go to Reconciliation Australia and they will mentor an organization in terms of their indigenous processes that they wanna embed into their organization and so what I would encourage you Christina to go to their website and there you'll see a lot of great examples of reconciliation action plans that have been put in place in those organizations. And look, yes there are a lot of organizations around the country, I can assure you that there are and you'll find them at that website so thank you for your question.
Thanks Mark, so as a consultant, what do you see as the key challenges for organizations when implementing cultural awareness training and workplace strategies to better enable an inclusive workforce for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
Thank you again Christina, I think the the challenge is that it has to be driven from the leadership, any change that is required within an organization or that an organization is wanting to undertake, the leadership has to has to drive that change because then I believe that that will infiltrate to the rest of the organization so I think if we have our leadership as the people that are interested and encouraging them to embrace diversity within your workplace, I think that's the key there is finding out whether your organization is interested if the leadership is interested in driving that change.
Thanks Mark. So we now have a question from Trish, how can changes be implemented to create and maintain mentally healthy and safe workplaces?
Thank you Trish, thank you for that question. Currently as you know, I deliver Mental Health First Aid, for me education is the way forward. And so engaging in mental health training and those types of things that for me has been a thing that I'm passionate about because I know that this helps people with their strategies in terms of their workplace of being aware of how their workers are performing so a big one is education, and having these Mental Health First Aid training days, they're a good way forward, I believe because they cover a lot of things in terms of mental health so that would be part of it. Also having that ability to debrief within your workplace and finding that common person or finding someone outside of your organization that can help you to debrief or have supervision. I know what Trish when I finished delivering my training, after training sessions with Mental Health First Aid, I have someone that I go to who was outside of Mental Health First Aid Australia and I actually go and sit down with him and debrief if there's anything that's troubling me after that training. So yeah, I think that those are important processes to have in place, you know, in terms of that mentally healthy safe workplace.
Thanks Mark. We have a question from Carolyn, how can I influence others in my organization to embrace or improve cultural capability?
I believe that part of it is that again, I think we go back to this leadership process and that the leadership if the leadership can drive that because then that highlights your organization's interest in inclusivity and also about diversity within the workplace and so if our leadership is on board and that we can get cultural capability training within the organization and that, you know, that opens up the doorway not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but that's for cultural people right across the board and which then gives your organization a profile within the community, you know, that demonstrates that your organization is diverse, that your organization is inclusive and so yes, it is that everything Nicole?
We just have one more question from Carolyn, what are some of the aspirational goals you have for organizations as they move to becoming more culturally sensitive to the needs of first Australians mental health?
Yeah look and again I'll get back to my mental health training, that's one area that I would really like to push forward is to be trained in this Mental Health First Aid, because it addresses some of the issues that affect Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people and so therefore, that can then inform your practice and your strategies in terms of engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. If we have that and we talked about in the presentation, we talked about empathy and understanding from an indigenous person's point of view, you know, what is affecting them and and how that is affecting them in terms of engaging and engaging in their work and engaging in their performance and their skills, I think that's so important. So my aspiration is wanting to educate more people in this mental health space because I believe it's becoming more and more recognized now across the world, not just only within Australia but around the world, more people now more than ever, now are acknowledging mental health and I think that the case is that the stigma is now being taken away and I wouldn't say it's completely taken away but the stigma is not as bad as what it used to be and so if we can educate people around mental health and how that affects in the workplace, then I think that that's one of the biggest hurdles and barriers for organizations is helping their people to understand you know that if they are unwell mentally and part of the message of Mental Health First Aid is about seeking professional help and going to get help. So that for me is so important is seeking out help and I can't voice that strongly enough.
I just have a question myself, you know, what motivates you to work in this area?
Nicole, for me I burnt out, I had a burnout at work and I was young I didn't understand this space, I didn't understand the whole mental health process. I wasn't as self aware and so that has led me on a journey after having my own lived experience with mental health, that has led me on my own journey to find out more and that's why I'm passionate about it because I want to encourage our indigenous, my indigenous brothers and sisters how to take care of themselves within the workplace, that there are strategies and there are things that they can put in place that will keep them safe and and have longevity in their roles. And so, yes I've so I've experienced the work of burnout but I've also now learned strategies that help to keep me mentally sound within the workplace and keep me mentally sound so that's what drives me Nicole, it's a passion of mine and I think it really informs people's practice when they understand what is going on for another person within their mental health.
Thanks Mark, you know, every time I speak to you I learn something new and I'm sure that people today have learned lots of new information as well so thank you.
Thanks Nicole, thanks for having me today.
So here are some of my key takeaway messages from Mark's presentation. Firstly, to recognize and consider cultural sensitivity, humility and safety. That cultural capability is the ability to communicate sensitively and respectfully across culture and to understand, acknowledge and respect others whose beliefs, values and way of life and doing things are different from our own and then placing yourself in a state of humility, ask questions or make statements like, you'll have to educate me on this or you'll have to help me understand. A reconciliation plan can assist an organization reflect upon current practices and then address where change is required. If you'd like to connect with Mark, please visit his website which you'll see on the next slide. So some further resources, I definitely suggest you have a look at our Mentally Healthy Workplaces Toolkit. This helps employers, managers and leaders eliminate and minimize risk to psychological health and create workplace environments that are mentally healthy. I highly recommend downloading the toolkit and having a look, there's more information about the integrated model that I mentioned earlier in the presentation as part of that toolkit. Thank you for joining us today, we still have some great free virtual events available until the end of October including sessions on managing return to work, wellbeing anchors at work, managing a multi-generational and vulnerable workforce and a chat with ex-Olympian Hayley Lewis, so it's not too late to register for these. You can also access a full catalog of industry and topic specific video case studies, podcast, speaker recordings, webinars and films to help you take action to improve your workplace health and safety and return to work outcomes. These resources are available for free, to access anytime visit WorkSafe.qld.gov.au. Thanks again for supporting Queensland Safe Work Month and remember, work safe, home safe.