I attend on a regular basis a meeting that raises Indigenous Australian issue and develop plans with government agencies. These meetings address the barriers for Indigenous Communities residing in the Baw Baw Area which is in West Gippsland. The people in attendance were 14 elders and 5 community members of the West Gippsland area called the Kurnai Tribe. There were also one member representing all the different agencies from the Baw Baw Shire Council, the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Health, Aboriginal Controlled Organisation, West Gippsland Health Care Group, Anglicare Victoria and Koorie Educators. I am a part of the Kurnai Tribe and as well work for Anglicare Victoria. I have never ever seen a meeting quiet like this one where the Indigenous Australians come together with the agencies to develop mutual plans to work together to achieve commonality. The meeting lasted about two hours then lunch is supplied which provides time for networking and building relationships and rapport.
The meeting followed similar style to other meetings I have attended. There was a call to order by the Chair, Cheryl Drayton the eldest elder, who welcome to country and paid her respects to her elders past and present and those who are with her today as well as welcoming all the people sitting at the table today. The previous meeting’s minutes were read and approved, through a motion and a second to that motion. It was very flexible after this by the Chair calling for any additional agendas from other agencies. The Chair began with asking each agency to discuss their topics for Agenda.
Anglicare Victoria started by stating that their Manager would like to meet with the elders and discuss employment of Indigenous people in their organisation and look at working with the Kurnai Tribe to address issues in relation to engaging with the families and work with them to reduce re-reports to Child Protection for families and children. Kurnai elders and Anglicare will set a date to meet and discuss the plans for working together.
Baw Baw Shire discussed a way of introducing Cultural Awareness into their organisation to start the councillors thinking about what they may do for the Indigenous people as they currently have a strategic plan which has been developed without the support of the Indigenous community of the Kurnai Tribe. The Elders gathered at one end of the table and there begun a debate about what the Baw Baw Shire needs to do and move towards however the Baw Baw Shire were reluctant at this point as they felt that they needed to continue doing small activities to build up to bigger ones to get the Councillors on board with the plans for the Indigenous Community. The Elders were not happy with the decisions made at the time however stated that they would agree to disagree and will monitor the progress of Council in the next month or so. Baw Baw Shire representative stated that he is committed to attending these meetings and working collaboratively to sustain changes within Council.
West Gippsland Health Care Group discussed their employment of traineeships at the Hospital where they have only three traineeships that are almost complete and they are in the negotiation of fulltime employment. They also raised information about Medicare local process for high needs Diabetics, diseases or illnesses seeking assistance would need to contact him and he will assist them through accessing the service as needed for more of a streamlined approach to services.
Department of Human Services discussed working together to achieve appropriate service delivery for Indigenous people. The elders wanted to know what they could do in relation to Housing as it seemed that some issues had arisen in the community where some people and children were homeless due to Family Violence in the home. The representative stated that it is an issue across a broader