Life Without Barriers teams across Queensland celebrated with friends, partners and communities to launch our Elevate RAP.
Image: Three women at Life Without Barriers' Deception Bay Elevate RAP launch, stand together and smile at the camera.
Life Without Barriers Queensland launched the Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with an online event and live events around the state.
The Queensland Online RAP Launch was hosted by the state’s RAP Group co-Chairs Teena Ingram, Child Youth and Family Queensland Director, and Leoni Lippitt, Queensland State Lead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiatives. They were joined by Rob Russell, Director of National Reconciliation and Wendy Knight, Director of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island Practice and Engagement.
The panellists discussed the importance of the Elevate RAP commitments to Life Without Barriers in Queensland and the significance these commitments have to each of them.
“As Director for Queensland, having an Elevate RAP gives me the strategic focus and the authorising environment to very clearly articulate our commitment - and to have the strength of the organisation behind us," said Teena Ingram.
"It means that we have the opportunity to do what we know and have known for many years that we should do.
“Having a firm commitment with really, really challenging and stretched deliverables supports us to do things that matter - for all our portfolios. This is not just a Child Youth and Family process in Queensland."
"This is all of us together, working together and standing together in order to make a difference.”
Image: Elevate RAP artwork created by the Rockhampton team.
Rob Russell, a proud Gomeroi man, believes everyone will benefit from the Elevate RAP.
“The transition (of providing out-of-home care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children) will transform Life Without Barriers into a much better organisation long term,” he said.
He emphasised the importance of self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, which is about them “having an active participation in conversations and decision making that directly affect them, and their families and communities.”
“What we are doing is nothing short of ground-breaking and history-making. It will change the landscape of self-determination across Australia,” said Rob.
Image: Elevate RAP artwork created by the Deception Bay team.
Wendy Knight, a proud Barkindgi woman from Gamilaroi Country, recently joined Life Without Barriers and brings a wealth of experience from community-controlled organisations, government, and mainstream organisations.
“Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led initiatives so that we can heal and have that Reconciliation,” Wendy urged non-Aboriginal organisations.
“Ultimately non-Aboriginal organisations need to acknowledge the systemic barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples face and work in partnership with communities towards Reconciliation and decolonisation,” she said.
Wendy gave examples of positive actions non-Aboriginal organisations can take, including building relationships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and communities.
“Go and have a yarn. Invite them for a feed,” she said.
Wendy also stated that policies and procedures should be informed by Mob. “Our perspectives and knowledge should be within those documents,” she said.
“Non-Aboriginal organisations need to have ongoing reflection and humility - and that definite willingness to listen and learn from us – ‘cos we’re deadly."
"We don’t have all the answers but listen and learn from us - we have so much to be able to give you. Just do those simple things – and it’s not rocket science – and we will transform this sector,” Wendy said.
Image: Elevate RAP artwork created by the Townsville team.
A member of the audience asked whether there would be Aboriginal advisory groups in Queensland, and Teena assured everyone that there would be advisory groups, including a Queensland RAP Working Group, which has already been formed.
“Queensland is diverse, and we want to make sure we are hearing the voices of our local communities. This RAP is a national commitment, but the way we are operationalising it in Queensland is meaningful to Queensland," she said.
"So there might be things we do here in Queensland that might not be driven directly from a deliverable from the RAP, but matters here. An advisory group or groups will be very important to that.”
Celebrations across the state
Life Without Barriers Deception Bay office, staff, carers and community, including REFOCUS and Yinarr Yinni Elders, came together on Gubbi Gubbi Country for a morning tea to commemorate the launch of the RAP.
It was a beautiful celebration with a Welcome to Country from Gubbi Gubbi Elder and language woman Auntie Jackie, traditional dancing and Smoking Ceremony, and a children’s interactive dance performance.
“It is beautiful to hear that finally, action is happening for our Jarjums. It’s been a long time coming, I’ve heard plenty of things in my time, but this morning that was lovely to hear finally. It was a lovely morning. Thanks bub, for letting me be a part of this,” said Aunty Jackie.
Partners who were invited expressed their appreciation for being a part of the special day.
Team Leader Mellisa Golsby-Smith and Senior Practitioner Bella Hartnell from REFOCUS remarked that the term ‘Trail Blazers’ comes to mind.
“The commitment Life Without Barriers displays, and their commitment to offer services to First Nations Families in the Foster Care Sector to be supported by First Nations services providers, is outstanding and is leading the sector to, ‘Think, Behave and Act Confidently with First Nations Organisations and First Nations Communities’,” they said.
Image: A man performs a traditional Smoking Ceremony at the Deception Bay RAP launch event.
The Townsville Life Without Barriers team were joined by local Elders and community organisation representatives in celebrating the launch of the Elevate RAP on the lands of the Bindal and Wulgurukaba people.
Life Without Barriers Cultural Support Planner Alan Patterson set the tone for the event with a moving Didgeridoo performance.
Birri Elder Professor Gracelyn Smallwood, who gave a Welcome to Country, reflected on her 10-year relationship with Townsville Life Without Barriers. She had spoken to staff about her family’s stories and being a part of the Stolen Generation. She acknowledged the work Life Without Barriers has done within and in collaboration with the community, then talked to the audience about the Reconciliation journey and obstacles that are still present today.
Operation Manager Purity Muchai spoke about why the RAP is important to her and to Townsville.
“What I hope to achieve in my role is to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a voice and that all cultural aspects are addressed and form part of any decisions I make."
"I am committed to providing cultural connections to the young people that we support, including through partnerships like the Proud Warriors program,” said Purity.
She also said she looked forward to working alongside Townsville Indigenous organisations to help better support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait young people and their families.
Guests watched the National launch online, as well as a slideshow of cultural activities young people and their carers have taken part in over the last six months.
Florence Onus, Community Development Worker and Cultural Advisor from the First Nations Women’s Legal Services, gave a blessing before lunch began.
The Townsville team created an artwork inspired by the Elevate RAP artwork, with community-centric grassroots as the centre point and the surrounding circle representing growth and values.
“All Aged Care and Child Youth and Family Townsville staff added their handprints to add to the artwork to symbolise the Townsville Life Without Barriers community working together to advocate and empower our young people and clients, making sure their voices are heard, strengthening connections within the community."
"The hands faced outward to represent the growth of those connections and relationships,” said Elizabeth Browne, from Life Without Barriers Child Youth and Family Townsville team.
Image: Townsville staff and guests together as a group, holding up their Elevate RAP artwork and smiling at the camera.
Life Without Barriers staff in Milton co-hosted an Elevate RAP morning tea on the lands of the Turrbul and Jagera peoples, with their partners Kurbingui Youth and Family Development.
Northside Elders, Inala Community House and Department colleagues also attended the celebrations.
Attendees enjoyed a tasty spread while they watched a video of the national Elevate RAP launch. They also heard Life Without Barriers and Kurbingui speakers talk about Reconciliation and their partnership over the past six years.
Life Without Barriers Operations Manager Renee Sawyer said to Kurbingui and other partners who attended, “It is wonderful to come together and celebrate with you all. We look forward to working closely together over the next few years to do this necessary and important work for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.”
Image: Life Without Barriers staff, partners from Kurbingui Youth and Family Development, and guests together as a group, smiling at the camera.
The team at the Springwood office had many reasons to celebrate: the Elevate RAP’s launch and the official opening of their new office located on the lands of Yugarabul country, and language groups of Yugambeh and Jaggera. They came together for a special day of sharing meals and telling important stories.
Life Without Barriers Springwood staff were joined by representatives from the Logan Elders (Aunty Margret, Uncle Lawrie, Aunty Rhonda, Aunty Cheryl, and Aunty Robyn), the Department of Child Safety, Murrigunyah, Jinndi Mibunn, Mabel Park State High School's Cultural Support Officer, and Gunya Meta.
The day started with Mark Williams’ moving performance on the didgeridoo. Aunty Robyn gave a Welcome to Country and shared her pleasure in the Elevate RAP. She encouraged all present to invest in it and follow through on the actions presented. She also spoke to the group about the Voice to Parliament and the need for the community to be heard.
Mark Williams began the official Smoking Ceremony and shared stories about its significance and cultural heritage. He invited Youth Worker Malakai to assist in starting a fire in the traditional manner and educated all present on the local materials he had sourced.
Aunty Margret shared stories about her family’s heritage, and Uncle Lawrie shared stories about overcoming challenges growing up as a young man with a hearing impairment. Mark then joined in on the sharing and taught Child and Family Practitioner Adam Broadhurst the basics of the Didgeridoo.
Operations Manager Sarah Mahony shared the history of the RAP within Life Without Barriers and spoke about the Elevate RAP.
“Life Without Barriers Child Youth and Family program is committed to reducing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children coming into the child protection system. We hope to partner with all our colleagues in the sector on a journey towards change for the better for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families," Sarah said.
"We support children being cared for safely within culture and wherever possible with family. Today marks the beginning of our new journey to working collaboratively with community organisations to enact this change.”
After watching the National RAP Launch and enjoying a lovely warm lunch, Youth Worker Lanny led a reflective piece, speaking in depth about his cultural experiences at Life Without Barriers and what Cultural Safety means to him.
Together with Cultural Support Planner Lyn, they led discussions with guests and invited everyone to participate in a reflective art activity titled ‘What does Cultural Safety Mean to You?”.
The Logan Elders who attended commented that there is a positive energy within the Life Without Barriers office and that it is clear that the staff are motivated and engaged to participate in the process. The Elders said they support the work Life Without Barriers are doing within the community.
Image: Mark Williams discussing the spiritual connection of the Didgeridoo with Adam Broadhurst. In the background from the left is: Uncle Lawrie, Aunty Cheryl, Mabel Park Rep, Aunty Lyn, and Aunty Rhonda.
Staff, community and local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners gathered together in the Toowoomba office for morning tea to launch the Elevate RAP.
Guests watched the National RAP launch recording, followed by a yarning circle discussing the local vision for the RAP and actions moving forward.
The Toowoomba team took everyone through a presentation that outlined the Toowoomba team’s commitments to bring the RAP to life in the lands of the Jarowair and Giabal Nations. Great discussions followed and invited guests expressed their motivation to move forward in partnership with Life Without Barriers to make change.
“We look forward to formally partnering with Life Without Barriers to provide programs and supports to our young people,” said Adam Wenitong from ADAPT Mentorship.
Charlie Rowe from CARBAL Medical Services said, “We look forward to having further discussions about working together, and I commend the commitment and direction that Life Without Barriers is going with their Elevated RAP.”
Laurie Stewart from Mercy Services spoke with staff about how to all work together ‘united’ and assist in reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Child Protection and Justice systems.
Image: Life Without Barriers staff and guests stand together as a group, smiling at the camera.
It was a fantastic morning on Darumbal Country when the Rockhampton team celebrated their launch of the Elevated RAP.
Aunty Karen Hall, a Gubbi Gubbi/Janowair woman, works as the Life Without Barriers Cultural Support Planner for the Rockhampton office. She liaised with the traditional custodians, Darumbal Enterprises, to obtain the meanings of the names for the residential houses. Darumbal Enterprises kindly provided the names: Wathan and Nurim.
These names were engraved into plaques that will be displayed in the houses, and new youth workers will also be informed as part of their induction. It will remind the young people that they are on Darumbal Country and to treat the Country with care and respect.
All attendees contributed to an inspiring art piece. The artwork was painted by Levi, a young inspiring Darumbal artist who used vivid colours to signify inspiring and motivating action and change.
Staff added words or phrases that represent what Reconciliation means to each of them personally. Words such as ‘wisdom’, ‘recover culture’, ‘coming together as one’, ‘listening’, ‘everyone’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘truth telling’ were just some of the words that became a part of the work.
Image: Life Without Barriers staff and guests sit together as a group, holding their Elevate RAP artwork and smiling at the camera.
The Life Without Barriers Ipswich staff chose a hands-on way to celebrate their launch of Elevate RAP. The launch was held at Life Without Barriers Ipswich office, on the lands of the clans that identify as being part of the Yagara/Yugara Language Group, the Jagera, Yuggera Ugarapul Peoples.
The team were joined by Child Safety Cultural Practice Advisors, and Kambu, Jaghu and Ipswich City Council staff.
To break the ice and set the fun tone of the day, attendees did a matching rocks activity that had an Aboriginal focus. Guests were also invited to paint an artwork based on the pillars of the Elevate RAP: Respect, Opportunities, Relationships and Transformation.
Guests who attended said they felt Life Without Barriers’ commitment is really genuine.
“It’s a collaborative effort from everyone, including the community,” said a guest.
“How passionate this company is about RAP and how committed we are to see outcomes,” remarked another partner.
Other attendees said the event gave them a clearer understanding of the RAP and how dedicated Life Without Barriers is to it.
Image: Artwork created by guests based on pillars of the Elevate RAP: Respect, Opportunities, Relationships & Transformation.
Gold Coast Robina
Life Without Barriers Gold Coast team was not satisfied marking the launch of the Elevate RAP with just one event, so they held three.
Staff came together to watch the Elevate Reconciliation Action Plan National Launch footage. Over lunch, they discussed what the Elevate RAP meant for them and reflected on creating safe spaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a voice for their own communities.
Child, Youth and Families Operations Manager Alison Brodie facilitated a special RAP launch CARE training. Attendees shared lunch and watched the recording of the National launch; then, facilitators led a discussion about Reconciliation.
Two days later, Life Without Barriers staff celebrated Life Without Barriers Elevate RAP Launch on Yugambeh Country. Partners who attended included friends from Labrador Child Safety and Keeping KINnected.
Traditional Custodian Grant Williams delivered a Welcome to Country before guests began an afternoon of yarns. Program Manager Renae Jones read New Horizons, a poem written by Sandra Gaal Hayman. Guests yarned about the Voice to Parliament, Reconciliation and the journey people had been on professionally and personally and the importance of Reconciliation actions.
Life Without Barriers staff talked about being safe to express who you are and not being afraid to speak about cultural heritage, values, traditions, and histories - and how all these things are signs of a culturally safe environment for all cultures.
A sausage sizzle in the beautiful Gold Coast Botanical Gardens topped off the afternoon of yarns.
Image: Life Without Barriers staff celebrating the RAP launch at the Gold Coast Botanical Gardens.
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