Case Study By Casey Munro, The Burdekin Association as a participant of ZSIC’s Yawarra (Care) Cultural Supervision Program - 2022 / 2023
Life is about balance and naturally there are challenges in amongst our journey. Whether we see it at a particular moment in time or not; there is always a reason as to why and how we experience life.
Reflecting on my journey both personally and professionally up until this point of beginning my journey with ZSIC, there has not been a boring day thus far. There have been times that have been far more challenging than others and it is in those points of time where having access to supports, to navigate the challenges and share successes, becomes vital for growth.
The way in which Zeke and I crossed paths many years ago was unintentional, and was also a time that I was experiencing some really significant challenges in the workplace role I was holding at that point in time. Zeke informally provided me with a culturally safe space for me to unpack and look at things from a different perspective. Since then I have held different roles in different sectors where access to cultural support was needed but was not available.
I now currently hold the Cultural Specialist role at The Burdekin Association. In this role I am responsible for providing support for all children / young people, their families and staff within the organization, as well as liaising with networks in the wider community and The Burdekin Association. This role also encompasses case managing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.
Focus supports on creating solid foundations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children and their families, within The Burdekin Association, is a priority with lots of work to be done. Also having my own personal experience of transitioning from leaving my own community to living in a metropolitan area emphasises the importance of having access to appropriate cultural supports.
In collaboration of my role with, and having the support from ZSIC, my vision is to create solid foundations within my own professional development and channel that to establishing my role and this opportunity to its full potential.
My experiences in the time that I have been actively involved in working with Aboriginal Youth in the Out of Home Care Sector has allowed me to witness systemic racism in many forms. Particularly the part it plays in creating inter-generational trauma for First Nations People, and the ongoing effects that I see on a daily basis.
My vision aims at helping to build on the current systems, so that our Aboriginal Youth and families remain connected to culture, country and community. It is clearer for me to see now, that my Indigenous Leadership opportunities challenge a systemic model that doesn’t favour my people, but more so enables me to provide others I work with to stand in their truth, and simply do what is right for our children who experience all that comes with being a part of the OOHC (Out Of Home Care) program.
I accepted this role to challenge myself and to grow in a multitude of ways.
The realisation of how important establishing relationships in the community with a holistic approach has been highlighted significantly, and is a priority for this role. Being aware of the impact from having consistent and stable relationships in community, and how they strengthen the support that our children and young people receive, is also an element of my vision.
Established foundations in this role and how it functions- learning ways of how to manage the multitude of demands varying from all different needs-basis.
Achievements – Past, Present, Future
Getting Aboriginal people back home on their country with their families, it speaks for itself. Nothing about that is simple or smooth. I give thanks to the team in Burdekin for the support they give me, it has been their ongoing support coupled with the trust they have for me in my unique Indigenous role, that further encourages me to have the tough conversations that lean toward the right decisions for our mob that have unfortunately found themselves in OOHC.
Not only do I feel a sense of achievement from having the trust I do from my teams, I can see achievements as a team inside Burdekin, of making genuine attempts to get Aboriginal Youth back home with their families, and back on country where they belong.
Advocating for Aboriginal Youth has always been a passion for me, and I recognised this for myself when growing up on Wiradjuri Country. There’s nothing like being grounded, connected and being part of who you really are as a sovereign human being.
This forms a large part of my intrinsic motivation, as it comes from a cultural strength that allows me to stand in my truth, and stand for others so that their truths can be told.
I work closely with other colleagues from other NGO services within the Inner West of Sydney in creating cultural collaborative sessions. The purpose of the sessions is to create a culturally safe space for the staff of Burdekin to have the ability to increase their awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. The sessions were intentionally designed to run over a course of multiple sessions and various groups to allow the dynamic of the group as well as individually to reflect of their own roles, knowledge and the dynamics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
The art of active listening and reflection is extremely influential when done correctly.
3+3=6 so does 2+4. You can have the same result but it’s in the mess of working it out that gives you the quality that you need.
Having access to cultural supervision and to be support by Zeke with his organisation has been vital for me to get through the past few months. There have been big challenges that have presented themselves- but necessary for growth for The Burdekin Association.
The role which I hold is all about culture- within culture there are many layers- cultural heritage, community dynamics, identity, house culture, workplace culture, social culture. Having a role that entails multiple layers which intertwine with each other, reflect each other as well as have their own individual characteristics requires a lot of community relationships. Ideally, I would like to build this role into a space where community relationships are solid and to have confidence in connecting young people up with them.
It is inevitable that every child and young person who enters care, will exit care- either through restoration to family, placement, or age; what will continue post exiting care is their healing. The process of healing isn’t pretty- its real and amongst all of it, there is a huge element of one allowing themselves to be vulnerable to embrace their healing from traumas or conditioning that one has experienced. Solid support networks, and connections are crucial in that process, particularly with culture, self-identity and sense of belonging.
My lived experiences has been the reality check for me that help me identify my achievements. For now, it recognise that it’s the good company that one experiences with good people, that places us in positions to find answers a lot sooner, to the questions that go begging for them.
I am just like a bee, bees collect the pollen from the flowers and contribute to the ecosystem to keep thriving”.
Below, is an image I took on a morning walk when I was back home in Bathurst, on Wiradjuri land. Every time I look at this photo, I can feel the energy in the air that day. I crave fresh air. It hits different when I’m home.
The location where I took this photo was not far from where the house my family lived in when I was born.
My focus is resting and I am putting solid healthy boundaries in with my leave- not checking emails, not having my phone on. Fitting enough my devices are due to have an update by IT so they will literally be out of sight out of mind.