WorkFocus Australia

Building better lives for Australians through work and health

Aboriginal Return to Work Service

Ensuring Australia’s First Nations Peoples receive recovery and return to work support

WorkFocus Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which we live and work, and pays respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise that the health of our people is connected to the health of our planet. We value access and inclusion and seek to listen, learn and build strong partnerships. We aim to provide genuine opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples within our workforce and through our business.

Culturally respectful service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

We offer a specialist approach through our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recovery and Return to Work Service.

As well as being able to access all our other programs and services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers who are navigating a workplace injury or illness can reach into their rich and unique culture to overcome the challenges of recovering and returning to work.

We work with the person we are supporting to deliver a culturally respectful service and help to recover all aspects of life following a workplace injury or illness.

We know the power of meaningful work to improve the lives of the people we support, their families and communities. That’s why we are passionate about ensuring our service:

  • is culturally respectful and appropriate
  • acknowledges and incorporates family networks and history
  • provides community engagement; and
  • works with the individual to design the best approach following an injury or illness

This map attempts to represent the language, social or nation groups of Aboriginal Australia. It shows only the general locations of larger groupings of people which may include clans, dialects or individual languages in a group. It used published resources from 1988-1994 and is not intended to be exact, nor the boundaries fixed. It is not suitable for native title or other land claims. David R Horton (creator), © Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, and Auslig/Sinclair, Knight, Merz, 1996. No reproduction without permission. To purchase a print version visit: www.aiatsis.ashop.com.au

We continually strive to build our understanding

We respect that this is a service which requires specific skills and appreciations. All our consultants and members of the leadership team have completed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Competency course via the Centre for Cultural Competence Australia.

We also continually leverage the experience and knowledge from our consultants who support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to ensure we are delivering a proven, reputable service. Each person we support is a partner in their own recovery.

We’re committed to creating relationships, understanding and respect with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We’ve previously documented this commitment in our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2017-19, and are currently completing a MedHealth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020. By ensuring equitable and inclusive access to our services and employment opportunities, we bring to life our mission and values.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recovery and Return to Work Service provides:

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A dedicated consultant trained in Cultural Competence
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Respect and appreciation of cultural customs and beliefs which may impact return to work and recovery
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Community support from local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils and medical centres
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Mentoring and support services
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Strategic Return to Work planning and supportive employment placement
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Ongoing communication and guidance between all key stakeholders

Meet our Aboriginal Partnerships Lead

Melanie Simon
Aboriginal Partnerships Lead/Employment Services Consultant

Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background before joining WorkFocus?

I am a proud Biripi, Worimi, and Anaiwan women. I have experience in the public and private sector, specialising in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, policy and economic advancement and I have a passion for the social, community and health sectors. In addition to my role at WorkFocus, I am currently in my final year of a Bachelor of Accounting degree at Western Sydney University.

What is your current role at WorkFocus, what are your main objectives?

I am the Aboriginal Partnerships Lead/Employment Services Consultant at WorkFocus. My role focuses on improving and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rehabilitation and return to work experience to help improve service outcomes. Another aspect of my role is to collaborate with internal staff and external stakeholders to share knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and increase awareness of the best practice approach to improve connections between WorkFocus as a whole and clients that identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

What do you enjoy most about your role at WorkFocus?

I enjoy the opportunity to work with people in the workplace rehabilitation sector and help improve outcomes. I also really value the connections I get to have with staff at WorkFocus and across MedHealth, and how we collaborate is great. Also, having the pleasure of taking people through the journey of cultural discovery and connection, which can be a very exciting and intimate experience and we all have an awesome take away and awareness.

NAIDOC Week 2022

In the theme of this year’s NAIDOC week, our team ‘Got up! Stood Up! Showed Up!’ at celebrations and events in their local communities. From learning more about the significance of smoking ceremonies, flag raising, joining in the march, and hearing about current issues facing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Guided by Melanie Simon, our Aboriginal Partnership Lead, our team are learning more about their local communities, how we can continue supporting meaningful change and implement a connection back to culture within our service via our culturally sensitive, specialised recovery and return to work service for people that identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Our logo symbolism

The circular shape of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service logo supports our holistic approach towards acknowledging and respecting the health, well-being, life and work goals of each person, while at the same time provides an unique visual identity. The moving arrows symbolise that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service acknowledges, respects and provides for the cultural and individual needs of each client, with the focal point representing the overall goal of providing a culturally tailored, respectful and appropriate recovery and return to work service.

*The featured WorkFocus Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service logo has been developed by Justine Kinney from Independent Indigenous Design Agency Cultural Creative and is used with permission. No unauthorised reproduction permitted. WorkFocus Australia is in a period of consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, customers and organisations to ensure the service will optimally meet the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples we seek to support. 

Make a referral for someone you know who may benefit from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service or for more information, please contact our Aboriginal Partnerships Lead, Melanie Simon on 1300 570 181.

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