In early June Act Out travelled up to Karratha, a booming mining town in the Pilbarra, to work with a group of local health workers.
THE PROBLEM WE WERE ASKED TO HELP WITH: Clients are not engaging.
The brief from the client had originally been to learn more engaging techniques for working with the community. They were experiencing difficulty engaging certain groups and they wanted to do things differently.
The group was wonderful; they took to the activities with openness and enthusiasm. What became increasingly clear as we delved deeper into their collective experiences was that the main issue was not about engaging the community.
THE MORE PRESSING PROBLEM TAT EMERGED: Service providers in Karratha are struggling with the pressure of living and working in Karratha
What is ironic in a boomtown like Karratha; a town that is significantly contributing to the increased wealth of Western Australia, is that according to the participants, most of the issues relate to shortages.
Firstly, there is a chronic shortage of staff in the community services field and a high turnover; they are working too long for too little, and across a variety of roles.
Secondly, there is a shortage of accommodation; some of the participants were themselves experiencing the pressures of restricted and overpriced housing similar to their clients – this created an added level of stress.
Thirdly, there is a shortage of opportunities to debrief. Month after month without an opportunity to debrief can
Lastly, there is shortage of cultural awareness by employers about the realities of being an Aboriginal worker. Sometimes being employed, earning money and having a vehicle at your disposal, means family and relatives are always making demands.
‘If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions’ Albert Einstein
We started off thinking that the main problem was engaging the community and were going to practise engagement techniques to address that. However, after a closer examination in a fun and safe space, it became clear that there were other issues. And no matter how many engagement techniques they might learn, these issues were seriously affecting service providers and, as a result, undermining their work with communities.