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Jodi's outstanding community service commitment leads to a career

Jodi Philpott charged towards her goal of working at Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA). Jodi studied the Certificate IV in Community Services CHC42015 and through this course was able to take a job placement at VACCA. Her commitment to the organisation and to her studies ended up in a job offer.

‘With my Indigenous background, I wanted to work in an Aboriginal organisation,’ Jodi says. ‘I had a connection and a passion about that and I did my placement and thought “wow this is where I want to be”. I knew what I wanted to do. I wasn’t faffing about, this was a goal.’

Jodi says she has had a lot of different careers; in child care, administration, schools, attendance officer, school crossing, waitressing, ‘you name it I’ve done it. I was a jack of all trades and master of none and I wanted to be a master of something with a good qualification behind me.’

Jodi now works as a case manager in VACCA’s Kinship Care program, providing care and support for Aboriginal children who are unable to live with their parents. Relatives, grandmothers or aunts or uncles or an older sibling, care for the children and Jodi supports both the children and the carers.

‘We manage that case and provide cultural opportunities. We provide cultural healing and programs for the children that come into our care,’ she says.

‘I currently have 11 clients. Each one has a different level of needs and intensity. Some I only speak to every fortnight, others I'm speaking to every couple of days, depending on the needs of those clients and the carers as well.’

During the course, subjects included drugs and alcohol, dealing with difficult clients, workplace health and safety, and case management ‘which was really brilliant because that's what I'm doing at the moment’.

‘Looking back, I took a lot out of that. In a Certificate IV of Community Services, what we covered gives you a really good taste of what to expect. Every job you learn when you get into that position, but Melbourne Polytechnic was a really good grounding point for going into the field.

‘The staff were brilliant, I’m still in contact with a couple of them, as my professional contacts. They were really helpful but engaging. They’ve been being working in the community service field and they were excellent professional role models.’

Jodi says the Outstanding Student award looks great on a resume, but more than that it's acknowledgement of her hard work. ‘From a cultural perspective, it acknowledges that as well. It’s nice that there's something specific there that it acknowledges, because it's such a battle for Aboriginal people to get some sort of acknowledgment there and recognition is an absolute bonus.’

Jodi says she made connection with her culture about 15 years ago.

‘Our story came up. It was always very much part of that “don't speak about it, we don't talk about being Aboriginal” because of the shame that was felt with that. If you said you were Aboriginal, well, you didn’t get a very good school, you couldn't have a career. No one ever talked about it,’ she says.

‘Then my mum did her family tree and it was found in there. I'm still working through my own story too. I’d like to go do a Return to Country one day for myself and my sister and touch base with our own community.’

The Boandik community is around Mount Gambier in the south-east of South Australia, and the language is Bunganditj. There’s a children’s book in the language and it’s Jodi’s intention with her clients to share her own story, to create a connection. ‘A lot of our kids don't have a connection with their own culture and part of our job is to find that culture’.