Lynley was overwhelmed when she first walked into MercyCare’s Kelmscott Residential Aged Care facility for an interview for an Aboriginal Traineeship.
The Ballardong-Nyoongar woman had never been in an aged care residence before and the environment felt pretty foreign for her.
“But I was committed, and I thought I’d give it a try and see how I go,” Lynley said.
And she’s so glad that she did, because after struggling to find work, Lynley was successful in her application for the position.
At the age of 50, when she started the traineeship, Lynley had never been in long term employment.
In the past she had volunteered at her children’s school and completed some work at a child care centre and as a live-in house mother for at-risk youth.
After spending many years dedicated to raising her four children, she found herself without any qualifications and struggling to find work.
“It was very hard, and I thought, who’s going to employ me?”
Mercy Care’s Aboriginal Traineeships program works to identify people with the characteristics that align with the Mercy values of respect, integrity, compassion, justice, excellence and courage.
Lynley said despite her lack of qualifications, she always knew she had something to contribute in the working world.
Despite her not having a background in aged care, she fit in well as part of the team.
“My siblings and I were always brought up to respect our elders, regardless of race, and do our chores and be committed if you work on something,” she said.
In Aboriginal culture, traditionally elderly people are cared for at home by family members.
This is likely one of the reasons Aboriginal people are less likely to be in aged care residences as they get older.
While Aboriginal people make up about three per cent of the Australian population, they make up just one per cent of those in residential aged care in the country.
“It’s the family’s responsibility in our culture,” Lynley said.
“So, if it was my mother, if I wasn’t able to do it, then my sister would help out or my sister would take turns, or my daughters would pitch in and help. If it was my father, my brothers and my grandsons would help.”
Lynley’s role at Kelmscott RAC worked well for her as she’s an Armadale local, so it was near to where she lives.
Working Monday to Friday was new to Lynley and she admits it was a little difficult to get used to.
“I wasn’t used to that sort of routine but then you get into it and it all starts falling into place,” she said.
A year after beginning her traineeship, Lynley’s manager asked if she’d like to come in for an interview for a part time role.
She says she was “over the moon” to get the position.
Lynley says having a job was about more than just having a steady stream of income.
“It built my confidence up and I’m more independent and strong, my culture is still strong, everyone here respects my culture and I respect theirs, so it’s good,” she said.
“If I can do it at my age at 50, my kids and my grandchildren can do it, I say if ‘nana’ can do it then they can do it, it’s a positive outlook for them when they get older.”
MercyCare has an Aboriginal Employment Policy and Strategy to reinforce MercyCare’s commitment to the employment and professional development of Aboriginal people within the organisation.