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NAIDOC Week 2021

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In our stories we can find solutions. This year, the theme for NAIDOC Week is ‘Heal Country!’ For First Nations people, Country is more than a place. The stories we tell about Country this week can help empower those in our communities, acting as a force for positive change.  

A good example of this is the story of Joan Loo, a First Nation’s person who IPA helped gain employment through our client ISS. Joan’s story is now helping those younger than her break the cycle of disadvantage. 

Joan faced many hardships throughout her life which impacted on her ability to obtain employment this also led to a lack of self-esteem and had Joan at times feeling helpless. Living in Perth and raising four boys largely on her own, Joan struggled.  

Holding down a job in this scenario is incredibly hard, especially for First Nations people. After gaining strength and independence, Joan built the confidence to seek a better opportunity for herself and her boys. 

IPA identified a role for Joan with our client ISS working in the mines. Our consultants helped Joan to transition back into employment, coaching her on interview technique, supporting her through on-going mentoring. 

Of the interview and coaching process for the ISS job, Joan said: 

“I went for it [the job] full pelt! You’ve got to have an interview, and I was scared because of my past. Definitely thought I wasn’t going to get the job, but I got it.

If not for Millie Rathnayake and Lindsay Thomas, I would have stopped … It means so much to me to have a job in the mines now. 

It makes a big difference and has a major impact in our lives. I never thought I would get this far in life, now I can help other young fellas to show you can pick yourself up.”

Since going back into fulltime work, Joan has made new friends, is living a healthy life and is learning new skills. She received her driver’s license last month, and now aspires to drive a dump truck for ISS.

Joan’s advice for those seeking a better life through employment:

“You can get over those hurdles, there is always a future and its better than you thought. This is a new and better life, I love my life. 

I’m doing it for my kids. If I can do it, and if I can change one life, I will be happy.”

Healing Country is about listening to First Nations people as the original and sovereign custodians of these lands. In our stories we can find solutions.