Opinion piece by Success Works Board member Dr. Prudence Black
With the results of the recent Voice referendum close to our minds and our hearts, it is important to note some of the key issues facing First Nations peoples are being addressed by the Closing the Gap initiative. Closing the Gap is underpinned by the belief that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should have a voice in the design and delivery of policies that affect them. In 2020, the Gari Yala (Speak the Truth): Gendered Insight report was published. The report surveyed more than 1,000 Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander workers and it outlined how gender played a part in the experiences of Indigenous women and men at work.
One of the key findings of the report was that Indigenous women with caring responsibilities are the group most likely to experience disadvantage and discrimination in the workplace.
The survey also found that Indigenous women ‘often feel unsafe in the workplace, often bear the extra responsibility for making their workplaces culturally sensitive and are less likely than Indigenous men to receive support from workplaces if they encounter racism’.
These are some of the issues that Success Works recognises as we find employment for the Indigenous women in our program. Staff at Success Works are well aware of the ‘cultural load’ that is often placed on Indigenous women as they undertake work while managing family and community responsibilities. Carrying a cultural load in a workplace means that women often take on extra unpaid work as they educate and try to make their workplace more culturally sensitive.
As 39% of women in the Success Works program are single mothers it is important to find work for the women that fits with the demands of family life but at the same time providing work that is satisfying. The survey revealed that Indigenous women are more likely to work in ‘low authentic organisations’ and about 7 in 10 workplaces ‘do not genuinely include and treat Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as equals in the workplace’.
We know that women with a criminal record already face considerable disadvantages when seeking jobs. When Success Works engages with employers, they help make it clear that the workplace culture can have an effect on the women they employ; this includes Indigenous women and women with a criminal record. The survey also revealed that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are in culturally safe working environments, they tend to be the most satisfied with their jobs, less likely to leave their jobs. This results in less money spent on recruitment and a happier workforce.
Please note the information for this article was sourced from Gari Yala (Speak the Truth): Gendered Insights Report. The report was authored by Gomeroi researcher, Dr. Olivia Evans, and from a joint project by the UTS Jumbunna Institute, Diversity Council of Australia, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Success Works acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands where we work. We acknowledge the disproportionate number of Indigenous, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the criminal justice system and the impact on women, children, and communities. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.
If you are a potential Employer, contact us to discuss the role you might play in helping a woman with a criminal record gain employment.
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