What’s it like to walk in two worlds, as a non-Indigenous social worker in a remote Aboriginal community, fresh out of university?
While that might seem daunting, Emily Hapea saw the opportunity for growth, developing authentic relationships and honouring the truth of First Nations Australians.
Emily lives and works in Cairns in northern Queensland. In this episode of ‘Talk the Walk’, Emily shares the journey that has shaped her understanding of trauma-informed practice influenced by experiences of institutional racism and a denial of Australia’s black history.
Like many social workers who are expected to wave a magic wand, Emily prefers to draw on deeply engrained values of equality, compassion for others and a sense of justice, to create a way of working that sustains her.
In this refreshing conversation, we explore:
- The beginnings of Emily’s social justice journey from childhood; the influences and myths that have shaped her ethics and values in life and work
- Why Emily believes that it is impossible to be born in Australia and avoid being racist
- Seeing intergenerational trauma as a truth, not a theory
- Emily’s framework for social work practice
- Beginnings and sparkling moments from working with vulnerable Aboriginal women seeking to get Child Protection out of their life, working within Noel Pearson’s Welfare Reform agenda for Cape York, and an innovative accommodation and early intervention support service for new mums
- The biggest learnings of being thrown in the deep end, fresh out of university into Cape York communities
- What can help when starting work in a new cultural context and the importance of developing relationships with cultural mentors
- Differences between social work in Indigenous and mainstream contexts
- The knowledge and skills Emily developed that she wouldn’t have, if she hadn’t worked with Indigenous communities
- Advice for social workers new to the field
- The sickness of denial about Australia’s true history and owning our racism, contrasted with Aboriginal people’s resilence and passion
- What Emily would do if she had a magic wand
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