Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers: Strategies and resources

May 2020

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD workers find aspects of their work rewarding, not the least of which is to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities. Other rewarding aspects of the job include advocating on behalf of clients, family and community, mentoring and training Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal colleagues, and being involved in decision-making and problem-solving processes at an organisational and systemic level.

Nevertheless, NCETA’s research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worker wellbeing has identified that workers in the AOD sector face numerous challenges such as stigmatisation, clients with complex needs, and complex personal, family and community circumstances.

A recent half-day workshop conducted by NCETA’s Allan Trifonoff on behalf of Nunkuwarrin Yunti enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AOD workers to explore these challenges further and to identify potential strategies to address them.

Using NCETA’s Feeling Deadly / Working Deadly Resource Kit participants shared support strategies that have worked for them including:

  • Looking out for one another
  • Keeping in touch and sharing quality time with family
  • Enjoying and sharing stories of success
  • Taking time out to look after themselves i.e., focusing on self-care
  • Using laughter as a remedy for stress.

During the workshop various organisational strategies to support workers’ wellbeing were also highlighted. These included providing:

  • Adequate debriefing
  • Quality clinical supervision
  • Professional peer support
  • Opportunities to take breaks and spend time with family and community.

While the strategies are particularly relevant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers they are also applicable to all AOD workers. For more information about NCETA’s worker wellbeing program and resources please check out the following additional resources on NCETA’s website:

A literature review, undertaken in collaboration with the Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (NADA) and Matua Raki (NZ) examining and evaluating the literature related to the health and wellbeing of the AOD workforces in Australasia: