This year NCNS celebrates 20 years of providing Aboriginal Services in the Penrith area. This is a significant milestone and a real celebration of the communities’ courage and advocacy all those year ago.
In the 90’s a number of Aboriginal Organisations closed down resulting in a lack of services and funding for the community. With the loss of these services and with no other Aboriginal organisations that stood out at that time for the community to approach, the community worked together with former NCNS Manager Maree McDermott, to determine the needs of the area, building relationships and trust. In 1998, NCNS got its first funding for two Aboriginal Workers, an Aboriginal family worker and an Aboriginal Youth Worker.
Since that beginning NCNS has built upon our commitment and our reputation, working with the Aboriginal Community to attract further Aboriginal projects to our organisation. 20 years on, this has resulted in a very unique organisation. There are very few organisations with a similar footprint to NCNS.
NCNS is a bicultural organisation with around 40% of our staff and projects being Aboriginal. We have worked very hard to ensure that there is Aboriginal representation at all levels of our organisation and are always working towards improvement in this area.
Over the years we have had so many outstanding Aboriginal workers, many of whom have stayed with NCNS for years and have done exceptional, innovative and best practice work in their communities, particularly in the area of Child & Family Services, Community Development, Casework, Health Services, Mental Health and Youth Services.
As an organisation, we are very proud of the quality and calibre of our workers and that especially includes our Aboriginal staff. We want to acknowledge the many Aboriginal workers who have created that record of great community service and reputation, who have since moved on to further their career in other areas. We also definitely acknowledge those key people who forged the links with the community and developed strong practices and culture within the organisation of mutual and 2-way learning between our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff and teams.
This 20-year anniversary is something we want to celebrate with the community. The community took a great leap of faith in trusting NCNS to provide service delivery and we hope that we have been able to back that up with great quality service over the years.
We are very proud of our record of Closing the Gap in the preparation of Aboriginal children for school. We have significant numbers of children who are now school ready through the interventions of our early childhood and family services. We see ourselves being very effective in that area and we also see ourselves being very effective in the area of Closing the Gap in chronic disease and mortality through the work of the Closing the Gap team and the Community Development team.
We hope to commemorate this 20 year milestone with a series of events that celebrate the community, with stories from children, young people, families and communities who have been NCNS service uses during this time, and the difference that those Aboriginal workers and services providers have been able to make in the lives of those people through providing secure housing, support in the home, early intervention screening, school readiness programs, supported playgroups and Aboriginal cultural and social inclusion programs.
So this year we’ll celebrate the work that has been done by all of the Aboriginal staff over the years and the achievements we’ve made together.