Aboriginal Career Transition Program

 In 2015 Aboriginal Working Together (AWT) wanted to find a way to support our mob who are being impacted by the NSW disability reforms. So we began collaborating with Dr Chris Sarra.

Dr Chris Sarra picture

Why Chris Sarra?

Dr Chris Sarra is a highly respected Aboriginal leader whose ‘strong and smart’ philosophy embraces a positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society. Chris is a confident Aboriginal role model who we knew would deliver culturally appropriate and meaningful supports.


Getting started….

We began in August 2015 with a one-day pilot workshop in Sydney for Aboriginal staff in metropolitan districts. From the 25 people who were there we learned some important things:

  • Our mob were looking for culturally appropriate supports
  • Partnering with Chris Sarra was a deadly choice
  • We were on the right track with the workshop but….
  • One day was not long enough

 So AWT did more thinking with Chris and his associate Sharon Grose and the Aboriginal Career Transition Program (ACTP) was created.

About the ACTP

The ACTP was to be all about helping Aboriginal staff to understand that:

  • No matter what’s going on around them, it’s their life and career
  • They always have choices even if they are hard ones
  • They can be in control of what’s happening for them even if it feels like circumstances around them are out of control
  • Change, even if it’s unsettling or scary, can be a good thing and they can get through it

It was a six-month program focussing particularly on frontline Aboriginal staff, including DSWs. It had three stages:

Stage 1 – three two-day workshops

Stage 2 – follow up support from Chris and Sharon for six months after the workshop

Stage 3 – final one-day workshop to ‘farewell’ the program

Launching the ACTP

The ACTP was launched in June 2016 and promoted via targeted emails, information cascaded through District management and the Working Together website. Staff were invited to submit an application and commit to participating in all activities for the duration of the program.

Stages 1 and 2 of the ACTP

The three two-day workshops were held in 2016 in Coffs Harbour (2 & 3 August), Orange (16 & 17 August) and Canberra (7 & 8 September).

A total of 46 amazing, ‘deadly’ people came together to share with and learn from each other. Chris and Sharon created culturally safe places and introduced participants to the Stronger Smarter Values of Respect, Integrity, Courage and Honesty.

Participants described the experience as challenging, inspiring and empowering. They were guided through practical sessions that helped them learn how to take control on a personal level.


Participants were encouraged to review their perceptions around the choices they have and to give honest responses around their fears, hopes and dreams for the future. By the end, people had embraced the challenges and were ready to put what they had learned into practice.

Ongoing support from the facilitators and each other has ensured that the workshops were only the beginning of participants’ individual journeys.

Stage 3 of the ACTP

On 23 March 2017 we held the final workshop to farewell the program and each other.

While not all the participants could be there, there were people from each of the 2016 workshops. At this workshop, participants:

  • Reconnected with the learnings from the ACTP
  • Reported on individual actions taken since the workshops
  • Reviewed strategies for developing relationships, strengths and resilience, and
  • Recommitted to personal action strategies

It was a day to celebrate what participants had achieved, to reconnect/connect with other participants and re-affirm what had been learned. There was also an element of sadness that the program had to end but the impact it’s made in their lives will stay with them.

Everyone involved in coordinating the ACTP is grateful for each participant’s trust, honesty and willingness to actively contribute. They made this program a success and they have re-motivated us to live out the values of respect, integrity, courage and honesty.


Page last modified by L on September 6, 2017 at 10:04 am