My name is Glenda Kickett and I am the Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Engagement and Therapeutic Services - Aboriginal Children and Families at the Australian Childhood Foundation. I am a Whadjuk and Ballardong Nyungah and connected to many Nyungah families across Nyungah country through my family.
I have over 20 years’ experience as a social worker managing programs in out-of-home care and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families where they have had ongoing contact with Child Protection and Family Support. The programs I managed ensured the children and young people’s care, cultural, social and emotional needs were met while in care and contact with their families; and supported families with issues and concerns by providing intensive family support and early intervention, family enhancement and reunification.
I see many strengths in our cultures, family kinship systems and the way we view our world which can be applied to how services should work with our families to build relationships and trust.
I have used cultural ways of working to build relationships and connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and children and young people, to support and advocate for them with other service providers and the Department. I am inspired to work in out-of-home care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people because their stories are my story. The challenge is advocating for their cultural needs and cultural ways of working with our families, because culture is not viewed as a strength in government services.
I am passionate about our culture, our children and young people and the possibilities of what can be achieved for our future when we talk with one voice and walk the journey together; and how we bring others on that journey. I started off as the interim Chairperson of NAIDOC Perth, but, ten years later I am still here. The other members saw qualities in me to lead the organisation which made me start to believe in myself. I initiated the Miss NAIDOC Perth Empowerment and Leadership program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young women which culminates in the crowning of Miss NAIDOC Perth. I am proud of all the young women who have participated in the program. I have responsibility to the other committee members, our members and community, funding bodies and sponsors and to be inclusive of all to organise our events.
Our organisation is a group of volunteers who have built up the events to become a significant part of NAIDOC Week in Perth.
I think good leadership is about building the strengths and capacity of others, especially children and young people so they gain the confidence and self-esteem to feel they can achieve anything. My strength as a leader is, I am a good listener and when you listen to the stories of others, you learn from them which is inspiring.
The advice I would give to my high school self is: you will get there, keep believing in yourself. This gives hope for the future. I was in care and felt very insecure and shy, lost and lonely and had a lot of self-doubt about my identity and culture.
If you are interested in advocating for change in the lives of people and communities, become a social worker. There are opportunities to work in community and cultural development, education, health, human rights and social justice.
My other advice is always set a goal for yourself and don’t give up, you will get stronger, just keep going.