In 2016-17, the Office of the Western Australia Ombudsman developed the Aboriginal Action Plan, a comprehensive whole-of-organisation plan intended to contribute to developing an organisation that is welcoming and culturally safe for Aboriginal people and meets the unique needs of the Aboriginal community we serve.
The plan was developed in the context of the significant disadvantage faced by Aboriginal people in Western Australia. The plan, and all of the work that has been undertaken in accordance with the plan, has been led in an outstanding way by Alison Gibson.
A critical part of this plan was the appointment of additional senior staff — a Senior Aboriginal Advisor that reports to the Principal Aboriginal Liaison Officer and an Aboriginal Enquiry and Investigating Officer (both of which are identified s. 50(d) positions under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984). The Office also engaged an Aboriginal artist to produce an artwork that represented the work of our office from the perspective of Aboriginal artist, Barbara Bynder. The artwork is featured in our Annual Report and will be used as a theme for the Office’s publications.
The Principal Aboriginal Liaison Officer and Senior Aboriginal Advisor attend events and meetings with government and non-government service providers to discuss issues affecting the Aboriginal community and raise awareness of the Ombudsmans role.
The Office also engages with the Aboriginal community through:
Aboriginal community information sessions as part of our Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program;
Visits to prisons and detention centres accompanied by Aboriginal staff and Aboriginal consultants, as part of our Prison Program; and
Consultation with the Aboriginal community as a key part of our major own motion investigations and reports.
Our Principal Aboriginal Liaison Officer also leads and co-ordinates critical cultural awareness information and events throughout the year, including a smoking ceremony attended by my staff and staff of agencies co-located in our building and information to my staff about culturally important dates and events being held in the community.
Source: Ombudsman Western Australia