Ability Options has been a leader in Disability and Employment Services since its inception more than 45 years ago – a leader that is especially dedicated to its core value of inclusion.
We champion diversity and support people to find their sense of belonging, with equal opportunities in their communities. Inclusion is a baseline for action and improvement, but ultimately, is far from the end goal.
NAIDOC Week is one of the most significant cultural events for Australia, as it enables us to come together, as leaders of diversity and inclusion, to share in the collective knowledge and experiences of First Nations peoples.
Having been with Ability Options for multiple years working alongside many different consultants, participant Jennifer is a proud Thunghuitti woman who believes NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to come together as strong leaders and build connections through culture.
In her time as an Ability Options participant, Jennifer has developed lasting relationships and learned many life lessons along the way.
“Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had from using Ability Options’ services is building strong relationships with some great people over the years,” she said.
“I’ve been completing programs, employment, and I also play a big part in our community and have advised many people about the services Ability Options offer to the Aboriginal community.”
To Jennifer, NAIDOC Week means “coming together as one”. She says if we’re to truly make progress, we all need to come together as leaders. Whether this is through shared ideas, plans, or even plain-old conversations, a common goal is crucial.
After two years of lockdowns which put a hold on many NAIDOC Week celebrations, this year’s NAIDOC Week is a chance for people to connect again. Jennifer will be meeting up with family and friends and heading into Yarbin/Redfern Park.
“My nephew comes from Parliament and even organises events – he rubs shoulders with the big fellas,” she said.
Jennifer believes in the importance of sharing cultures and knowledge with one another and says everyone deserves the opportunity to give their perspectives and have their contribution heard loud and clear.
“[It is important we] speak with the children, making sure everyone is empowered and heard. As a young girl, I knew what it felt like not to be seen. I was different … all from my colour. Just having a yarn with different cultures [helps us] understand,“ she said.
Jennifer’s belief that NAIDOC Week is a celebration of communities connecting, combined with this year’s NAIDOC Week theme being “Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up”, encourages us to be the change we wish to see – to truly ‘show up’ beyond empty words and promises.
Jennifer says we need to champion change and be the leaders who bring it into reality. This year’s NAIDOC Week, for Jennifer and all of us, is a real opportunity to really narrow the gap between aspiration and reality, good intent, and deliver outcomes.
Jennifer said she would like to see one major change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: “for us all to be great leaders of our own Country”.
She added that everyone knows the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non‑Indigenous Australians must be based on equity, inclusion, and proper recognition of First Nation’s peoples’ rights, but what truly matters, is how we act on this going forward as leaders.
Learn more about Ability Options’ steps towards reconciliation, here.