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Aboriginal traineeships offer valuable work insights

A new MercyCare traineeship program is helping five Aboriginal students realise their potential, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable work and life skills. 

The school-based students have been selected to work at various MercyCare sites one day a month for 18 months as part of their Certificate II studies in business and community services. 

The traineeships, offered through the SMYL Community Services Aboriginal School-Based Traineeship Program, are part of MercyCare’s Aboriginal Pathway Strategy, which was unveiled during National Reconciliation Week celebrations at the Grenville Community Centre, Tuart Hill on May 27.

Through the strategy, MercyCare has committed to building relationships with Aboriginal elders and leaders, increasing its Aboriginal workforce at all levels of the organisation and supporting reconciliation and healing initiatives.

It aims to engage the “head, heart, hands and spirit in a reconciliation journey” to recognise Aboriginal rights and leadership as well as the contribution Aboriginal people make to Australian society.

Presbyterian Ladies’ College student Jadaja Torres, 16, said her traineeship with MercyCare’s human resources team had already proved invaluable after just three months.

Jadaja, who is originally from Broome and has boarded at Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Peppermint Grove for the past four years, said it was important for young Indigenous people to have access to traineeships to make the most of opportunities.

“It can open up so many doors that wouldn’t be available otherwise,” she said. 

“Young Aboriginal people can feel neglected or like they don’t have opportunities available to them. When you hear about traineeships like this one, it helps you feel motivated to achieve your goals.

“MercyCare is helping me see that I can give back to the community while still working in a corporate office.

“The traineeship has helped me learn how to be independent and has given me the confidence to solve problems by myself.”

MercyCare Chief Executive Officer Chris Hall said the organisation was delighted to offer the sought-after traineeships to young Indigenous people as an investment in the individuals as well as future generations.

“MercyCare is keenly aware of the aspiration for self-determination that Aboriginal people have been expressing for decades and feel it is paramount that we work closely with young Aboriginal people to support their aspirations and build a strong inclusive community,” Mr Hall said. 

“The feedback we have had about the new traineeships has been very encouraging. 

“We hope to further add to the success of the traineeship program by offering a horticultural trainee the opportunity to work with MercyCare’s garden and maintenance team in the future.

“At MercyCare, we want to make meaningful contributions to social, health, wellbeing, economic and political empowerment outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“This strategy is about continuing our reconciliation journey of respecting and acknowledging our country’s First People, their land and their culture.”