Reconciliation… More than 200 years after the English invaded the land they so erroneously entitled Terra Nullius, it seems that much has changed for the worse, and very little has changed for the better for the original people, the…
Cross Cultural Consultants are finalists in the Community Achievement Category for the Small Business Achiever Award.
The peoples choice awards are now open and we would love your vote.
In response to the COVID-19 virus, and in order to keep our clients and our staff safe, Cross Cultural Consultants has adjusted our business model and advanced our digital experience.
CCC is proud to offer a range of digital solutions, and we are improving the accessibility of our training and extending our reach to support regional and remote areas. Over the next few weeks CCC will have a webinar option up and running for clients, allowing us to facilitate online sessions of small groups. CCC will also continue to deliver our blended learning solutions, substituting face to face workshops with short webinar sessions paired with our current eLearning modules and a whole suite of new modules which are on the horizon.
While this is an unprecedented and difficult period for everyone, we need to come together as a community and continue to work and live as normally as possible. As a small business we are worried about what these changes and conditions mean for us but CCC remains hopeful clients will continue to support small business and each other through this time.
Since Kevin Rudd’s 2008 National Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the subsequent commencement of the Closing the Gap initiative, there have been 12 annual reports tracking Australia’s national progress toward closing health, education, and employment gaps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Closing the Gap, since its inception, has set 7 targets with varying deadlines: Halve the child mortality gap by 2018; enrol 95 percent of all indigenous four-year-olds in early education by 2025; close the gap in school attendance by 2018; halve the gap in literacy and numeracy skills by 2018; halve the gap for year 12 attainment or equivalent for those Indigenous Australian aged 20-24 Years; halve the gap in employment outcomes by 2018 and; close the life expectancy gap within a generation by 2031. While this most recent report highlighted that some progress has been made towards these targets, only 2 out of the 7 are on track to be achieved within their respective deadlines, being early childhood enrolments and year 12 attainment. Over half of these have already fundamentally failed, with deadlines ending 2 years ago. This begs the question: where is the government failing in its efforts to close the gap and what strategies can be undertaken to rectify these failings?
From our perspective here at Cross Cultural Consultants the answer to that question lies in truly effective community engagement, leading to policy that is genuinely co-designed with communities for place-based solutions that have real community buy-in. Australia is a vast continent, and although there is a trend in the issues facing many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there is a tendency to see all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as one single homogenous group. This could not be further from the truth. There are in excess of 50 language groups in the Northern Territory alone, and complex layers of historical events and traumas that differ from group to group. Considering these complexities, it is no wonder why policy addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues that have a ‘one size fits all’ approach fails to deliver desirable outcomes.
In 2018 the Coalition government and the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to, and begun undertaking steps toward, a Closing the Gap refresh that revises targets and priorities, promising to work together with Indigenous people to set a new agenda (NIAA, 2019). In response to this year’s report, both the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese displayed a rare vein of bipartisanship, agreeing that the current approach to Closing the Gap is not working. The Prime Minister himself admitted that a “top-down, government-knows-best approach,” which does not work in partnership with Indigenous people is the wrong model to follow and that the overhaul of the framework as per the 2018 commitments would be led by Indigenous Australians (Higgins, 2020). The truth of this Indigenous led overhaul remains to be seen, however the concepts underlying the alleged revised approach can be considered as a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, as is the case with so much policy, what the head says is not necessarily what the hands deliver. Promises made in federal and state parliaments are filtered through various departments and public servants, converted into requests for quotes and tenders that all too often sacrifice quality for the sake of time and money. CCC has worked on countless tenders and undertaken jobs where community and stakeholder engagement, although included within the scope of works, has been woefully under-resourced in terms of its scope and allotted time for completion. Effective community engagement, in a landscape as complex and varied as Australia’s, is time consuming. However, laying the groundwork for tailored policies through quality community engagement and generating genuine community buy in, while slow work at first, is more likely to lead to a faster and more efficient implementation. Moreover, tailored solutions led by communities are more likely to legitimately contribute to building social capital and capacity, thereby improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the board, including in the areas targeted by Closing the Gap. Such an approach focuses on community empowerment and reflects the notion of giving people a hand up, rather than simply a handout.
Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is not a simple process, as the last 12 years have demonstrated, and it will not be achieved overnight. However, effective community engagement in policy making, which leads to community buy in and empowerment, is in CCC’s opinion the only way to truly achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and for Australia as a whole. Put simply in the Uluru Statement, “When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish… they will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country” (Uluru Statement, 2017).
Higgins, I. (2020, February 13). Closing the Gap report shows only two targets on track as PM pushes for Indigenous-led refresh, ABC News. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-12/closing-the-gap-report-2019-indigenous-outcomes-not-on-track/11949712
National Indigenous Australians Agency, Australian Government. (2019). About Closing the Gap. Retrieved from https://closingthegap.niaa.gov.au/about-closing-gap
The Uluru Statement. (2017). The Uluru Statement from the Heart. Retrieved from https://ulurustatement.org/the-statement
A national group of companies engaged in engineering, design, construction and land development, the BMD Group services clients and partners in the urban development, transport, infrastructure, resources and energy sectors. Cross Cultural Consultants is proud to have the BMD Group as one of our return clients, and would like to take a moment to commend them on their dedication to ensuring their staff have access to the broad range cross cultural training we offer.
The BMD Group operates five companies, including BMD Constructions, BMD Urban, Empower Engineers & Project Managers, JMac Constructions and Urbex. Across these companies are some 1,700 staff at all levels. The BMD Group has always prided themselves on seeing the strengths of their staff, encouraging high quality and genuine relationships with all their clients and stakeholders. This is embodied in their company motto: “Our Business is Our People”. This mind set is something that the team at Cross Cultural Consultants have seen clearly during our time working with the BMD Group, and that people-focused approach has served them well in their cross cultural training endeavours.
While some large companies become caught up in the day-to-day management of business, CCC feels the BMD Group has always tried to go further, with a future-focused attitude on matters of cultural importance. They have a strong vision for reconciliation in their ranks, aiming to “create a diverse and inclusive workforce that is respectful of differences, recognizing that reconciliation forms part of our past and future”. It is heartening as an Indigenous business, to see the passion with which the BMD Group has approached reconciliation, and how they are aspiring to “create a culture that values and utilises the contributions of people from different backgrounds”. They have a genuine and honest commitment to the delivery of positive outcomes for their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, clients and communities, they recognise the power that they have as a larger company to drive opportunity, and seek every chance to do so.
Cross Cultural Consultants have worked extensively with the BMD Group in these goals, and have been a part of the process of the company rolling out cultural awareness training at a national level. We recognise, as they do, that this kind of training has an enormous impact on helping the company to achieve their goal of improving opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, both within their project and corporate workforces. Our own role in this has been, over the last 18 months, providing the BMD Group with over 45 courses delivered across Australia that have involved more than 1,000 of their workforce. The incredible success and positive impact of these courses has left the team at Cross Cultural Consultants more than eager to see what 2019 will for our two companies in continuing to work together to build a future of improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Thank you BMD Group for choosing Cross Cultural Consultants as your cross cultural training partner!
As we approach our milestone of 30 years in operation, Cross Cultural Consultants has realised that there are some things worth celebrating in the world of business. One of these is good relationships, which is why we’re taking a moment to talk about CareFlight today.
You may already know that CareFlight has been a key player in Australia’s aeromedical services industry for more than three decades, including more than 10 years operating in the Northern Territory. What you might not know is that CareFlight is also a key client of Cross Cultural Consultants and has been an important part of our journey in the last few years.
Cross Cultural Consultants have worked with CareFlight for several years, delivering cross cultural training to CareFlight employees at all levels of their organisation. CareFlight has been entirely committed during this time to learning how to effectively engage and work with Aboriginal people in a meaningful and mindful way, particularly involving patients in need of emergency flights to access medical attention. They operate in in some of the most remote locations in the Northern Territory, across all situations and encountering a variety of day-to-day challenges.
Working cross cultural is always a complex undertaking, as anyone who has operated in this space can confirm. CareFlight deals with this at a further level again as their staff often deal with patients in a state of distress and high emotion, struggling to make rational decisions. In these situations, there is a higher risk to both patients and staff, which is why it is so important to target potential increases to risk where possible. CareFlight have dedicated themselves to this in their commitment to cross cultural training, which is universally recognised as one of the core foundations in transforming how services are delivered by cultural outsiders into often minimally understood cultural environments.
There are confronting issues of Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, as in many parts of Australia, despite continued efforts by governments on all sides to ‘Close the Gap’. It is a constant challenge for service providers working in these fields to recognise the unique nature of Aboriginal culture,and acknowledge the connections and strength that Aboriginal people can bring when it comes to solving their own health problems.
As a cross cultural training provider, and as an Aboriginal business, we are proud to have worked with CareFlight, and hope to continue to do so into the future. Their extended commitment to embracing cross cultural ways of working should be commended, along with their dedication to working with Aboriginal businesses like Cross Cultural Consultants to offer authentic and informed cross cultural training programs to all of their staff.
October is here again. In the South, Spring has well and truly sprung with new life and new opportunity. In the North, the Dry is winding to a close and the build-up has begun.
As many of you probably know, October is the time that businesses the Northern Territory come together to celebrate October Business Month. The premier event of the N.T.’s business calendar, October Business Month provides businesses in the region with a chance to undertake networking, promotion and the development staff and skills. It also allows them to embed themselves into the vibrant N.T. business community.
But did you know that October is also the time for something else?
Many people in the Northern Territory forget that while in our Territory it’s all about October Business Month, the entire country also celebrates Indigenous Business Month in the month of October. This national event is in its fourth year in 2018, and is an initiative of the MURRA Indigenous Master Class Program (MURRA) alumni. Indigenous Business Month is all about promoting the variety and depth of Indigenous business across Australia, and providing Indigenous businesses with the voice they should have in a national business conversation. It is also intended to provide visual positive role models for young Indigenous Australians.
This year’s Indigenous Business Month is particularly special because of its focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business. The theme of this year’s events has been chosen to coincide with the 2018 NAIDOC theme ‘Because of Her, We Can’. For the third year in a tow, PwC Indigenous Consulting is working in partnership with MURRA to offer one female Indigenous business owner the PwC & MURRA Boost Initiative, a grant for skills and expertise training to the value of some $30,000. This year also celebrates the very first international Indigenous Business Month event, which will be held in Wellington, NZ.
So we know it’s easy to get caught up in October Business Month in the N.T., with so many events and so much on offer, but let’s not forget something truly incredible that is happening at the same time. There are many exciting and innovative Indigenous businesses that make their home in the Northern Territory as well, of which Cross Cultural Consultants is just one. Celebrating these businesses, and using Indigenous Business Month as a chance to network, grow and get to know local Indigenous businesses in Darwin and further abroad, improves everyone’s lives. This month of events allows Indigenous businesses to show off what they can do, and acknowledges that just as Indigenous people have a place in the fabric of Australia’s social and cultural future, so to do they have a place in her business future.
In the vastness of the Northern Territory, it takes an incredible voice to connect the people to an ancient culture and tradition. These voices are so important, not just to Aboriginal people but to anyone who calls themselves Australian. So, we were greatly saddened to hear of the passing of such a voice this week. This music man, who’s name we will not use, passed away from complications relating to an illness he contracted as a child. Born blind in the remote East Arnhem island community of Galiwin’ku in 1971, he had a beautiful tenor and a talent for music across genres. He mastered a variety of instruments in his youth, even learning to play the guitar upside down as he was left-handed. In his family he was influenced by another famed Indigenous musician, his uncle, who was the singer of the acclaimed Yothu Yindi band.
This blind singer first experienced the world of music outside of Galiwin’ku in 1989 when, just a teenager, he became a part of Yothu Yindi as a keyboard player. At the time, we could hardly have anticipated the road his journey would take to him becoming the most significant Indigenous musician of his time. He released a debut self-titled album in 2008, and immediately connected with listeners around Australia, singing in his native language. His first album went on to achieve triple platinum, and this Northern Territory music man became the unforgettable voice of our generation.
Sadly, illnesses the singer had lived with since childhood began to have an impact on his health. He appeared at the National Indigenous Music Awards last year in a wheelchair, and it was confirmed that he was having renal dialysis treatment as a result of hepatitis B. He passed away on Tuesday afternoon in Royal Darwin Hospital, aged just 46.
At a time like this, it’s easy to get caught up in the discussions about Aboriginal life expectancy in Australia, particularly when many remote Aboriginal people consider any year after 50 a blessing. It’s a difficult reality we live in, but today there isn’t anything we can do about that. Instead, we will look over the sea and remember an Elcho Island man with the voice of an angel who brought together people not just in Australia, but around the world, with music that spoke volumes about his life, his people, and his culture.