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He’s been instrumental in guiding and shaping the development of Aboriginal Community Connect (ACC), the organisation’s alcohol and other drug (AOD) service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their families and communities.

As a Senior Aboriginal Practitioner with ACC, Bill supports the team’s staff, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to add to their skill set in terms of engagement strategies, and provides a cultural context when working with Aboriginal people and their families.

“I’m really invested in supporting our staff – they are our biggest asset,” Bill says.

… an opportunity to empower Aboriginal people, families and communities to be their own change agents, leading their lives in a positive way.

“When you are working with an Aboriginal individual and their family, you must invest in the relationship first and foremost. You need to build a sense of trust and mutual respect. It might take a number of appointments to build that trust before we can start working with issues of AOD or mental health or homelessness.

“You don’t get a second opportunity – first impressions count. We must be mindful that we are working with a group that is disadvantaged, disconnected, and which has a lack of trust in service providers. It’s about supporting staff to invest in the relationship in a way that is culturally appropriate and non- threatening.”

It’s the positive outcomes and the growth and development of the ACC team that inspire Bill.

“I feel really valued in my role and right across our organisation,” he says.

“But first and foremost it’s about seeing really good outcomes from the program. Because if you have impact on an individual level, you’ve then got the scope to impact on Aboriginal families and communities more broadly as well.”

“ 22 | Uniting Communities Annual Report 2016

“I enjoy seeing the ACC staff grow and develop. As someone in the leadership team, I’ve seen ACC staff entrench their own skills sets and become more effective workers in their community. That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

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