Proud to serve his people

Proud to serve his people

Monday, 8 July 2019

Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer Kye Harding
Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer Kye Harding

A proud Gunai man, our Shepparton Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer Kye Hardie, appreciates his new role, which immerses him with his people.

Kye’s previous job prepared him well to advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

‘Prior to joining Victoria Legal Aid, I was the justice worker for my local Aboriginal Cooperative, helping community members complete their correction orders by running community work approved mentoring programs.’

Despite the attraction of working for Victoria Legal Aid, the decision to join the organisation wasn’t straightforward for Kye.

‘Leaving my old job was not an easy decision, because I loved my work.

‘However, ultimately it came down to realising I could gain invaluable experience working for a large organisation, whilst continuing to serve my community,’ said Kye.

The role of the Aboriginal community engagement officer

Queried on the role of the Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer, Kye believes his position is part information sharing and part support.

‘My role mainly centres around providing support and advice to the solicitors working with Aboriginal community members, whilst also assisting those community members link in with services provided outside Victoria Legal Aid.

‘This doesn’t mean I tell people how to do their jobs, but rather, ensures that the relationship between a government organisation and the Aboriginal community is culturally appropriate, and that the community feel safe and welcome when interacting with our staff.

‘I enjoy being able to provide a helpful and personal service and educating the community that I am approachable, and someone who is keen to help resolve their problem.

‘If I can build up goodwill in the community and ensure that someone feels comfortable enough to approach me because family or friends have advised them that I am the person to see, then that’s the start of a great relationship between a large non-Aboriginal organisation and the community I serve.’

Listening to our clients and meeting their diverse needs is a major focus of Kye’s role.

‘Talking to our clients, listening to their responses, and using this information to determine whether they have a legal or non-legal need, is a big part of my role.

‘The conversation then centres around the referrals I can make to help solve their problem, and prevent them entering the justice system.

Addressing legal problems early

Kye also enjoys organising events to help assist his Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.

‘I recently organised a legal information night at Rumbalara Football Netball Club in Shepparton during one of their club dinner nights.

‘The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and Consumer Action Law Centre also attended the night along with myself, and one of our lawyers, Amilee Myson.

‘The night was a good way to build community engagement as the football club has the largest number of Aboriginal players, volunteers and officials in our region, and we were able to go directly to the clients that the Aboriginal community engagement officer role is designed to help.

‘Nights like these are invaluable as we are able to answer questions about overdue fines and bills, and tenancy issues, all of which have the potential to become major legal problems if they are not addressed early.

‘Outreach events such as these show that we are prepared to come to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and provide a helpful and culturally appropriate service,’ said Kye.

More information 

Read about NAIDOC Week 2019.

Learn about careers at Victoria Legal Aid.

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