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Staff member features in NAIDOC resources

Image of Shaylem. The Lutheran Care logo appears in the bottom right hand corner.

Staff member features in NAIDOC resources

An emerging First Nations leader on staff at Lutheran Care has had a touching tribute to her father included in national educational resources for NAIDOC Week.

Shaylem is a Ngarrindjeri woman who, as the Aboriginal Cultural Worker for Lutheran Care’s Foster Care team, is passionate about keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people – particularly those in care – connected to culture.

At Lutheran Care, Shaylem is responsible for leading cultural competency training and assessment of prospective Foster Carers, as well as providing whole of journey support to foster families caring for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Outside her role at Lutheran Care, Shaylem is also one of only eight participants nationwide – and the only South Australian – in the 12-month Culture is Life 2023 Fullaship program, which is an exclusive professional development opportunity for up and coming First Nations community leaders, role models and mentors.

Alongside regular mentoring sessions, Shaylem and her peers are invited to several intensive learning opportunities in different parts of Australia. Already, they’ve travelled to New South Wales for an four-day session which included a tour of the Kuringai National Park with traditional owners, and visiting Redfern to learn about its history as a hub for Aboriginal activism and advocacy. More sessions will be held in Western Australia and Tasmania this year before the Fullaship graduation ceremony in Melbourne.

As part of the program, Shaylem and her fellow Fullaship participants were asked to share personal responses to this year’s NAIDOC Week theme ‘For Our Elders’.

Shaylem penned a touching tribute to her Dad, Bill Wilson, who has been a local advocate for Aboriginal education for more than 40 years, as a longtime director of Tauondi Aboriginal College in Port Adelaide. She also recorded a video with her insights about the NAIDOC theme.

“He [Bill] has shown me what it means to be a proud Ngarrindjeri person,” Shaylem wrote.

“He has succeeded despite the odds being against him, he has advocated, he has inspired and he has given back.”

Speaking to Shaylem, it’s very clear how much of an influence Bill has been professionally and of course personally. Her first job was in administration at Bill’s beloved Tauondi Aboriginal College, and prior to coming to Lutheran Care, Shaylem managed mentoring for the University of Adelaide’s Wirltu Yarlu program, which engages, recruits and supports Aboriginal students.

“My passion and drive to implement change is from him,” she said.

“I’m kind of following in his footsteps, although I might not admit that to him!”

Shaylem is proud she could acknowledge Bill on a national stage and that students all over Australia will be reading and engaging with his story.

“I feel like sometimes we only celebrate people who are doing things on a national scale instead of celebrating people who’ve worked in grassroots community for their whole working career,” she said.

“They often go unnoticed, but actually, they’re the ones putting in most of the hard work and making that change happen.”

Shaylem’s full story about Bill has been included in the NAIDOC Week Educational Resources, which were put together by the ABC and Culture is Life. Also included with the piece are questions and activities for teachers to use in a classroom context with students in years 3-6, to get them engaging with Shaylem’s article and thinking more deeply about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences historically and today.

Shaylem originally planned to keep the resources as a surprise from Bill.

“I knew it would pull on the heartstrings,” she said.

“I had to spill to him though as we’d been invited to the National NAIDOC Ball in Brisbane on Saturday!”

“He got a little bit teary.”

Ten months into her role with Lutheran Care’s Foster Care Services, the Foster Care ‘Village’ of carers, children and staff are benefiting from Shaylem’s willingness to share knowledge and answer questions around the provision of culturally safe and respectful care.

She can also assist with ways to keep children in touch with culture, from her vast knowledge of events, contacts and resources. Shaylem advocates around issues such as Returning to Country and reconnecting an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child with their mob if this knowledge or connection has been lost. She is also involved in promoting Foster Care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

One project on the horizon is creating a set of resources for families with ways to stay connected with culture. She is also passionate about embedding culture across all levels of the organisation, and is hopeful Lutheran Care will continue to do this, as guided by its Reconciliation Action Plan.

Congratulations on your achievements Shaylem, and thanks for what you do at Lutheran Care to support foster families and children in care.

To view the NAIDOC Week Educational Resources, click here.

We are always looking for new Foster Carers to put their hands up to support children or young people through Short Term, Long-Term, Respite, Generalist or Specialist Care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers are particularly encouraged to find out more.

To take the first step, please visit: https://www.lutherancare.org.au/foster-care