A warm reception in the Top End

When we asked 10 I-Kiribati women about what they liked to do during their free time, their response was unanimous; volleyball, dancing, and singing!

What Tikataake and her colleagues thought was just a polite question was in fact an effort to understand their needs and create a welcoming environment for their time in Australia.

These women arrived in Australia in May 2023, to work with us at Carpentaria, as part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme. Like many other organisations, we engaged with the PALM scheme to meet workforce demands. The 10 experienced nurses join our workforce for 4 years, supporting the increased demand for high-quality and individualised disability services here in Darwin.

Nikkie Harley, Carpentaria Acting Senior Manager People and Learning, said helping workers to feel at home was very important, with plans being finalised well in advance of the PALM team’s start date.

“One aspect we focused on was the availability of suitable accommodation as the rental market in Darwin has been tight in recent times. We wanted to secure two houses in close proximity to work and local amenities,” said Nikkie.

Carpentaria secured two 5-bedroom houses in the Northern Suburbs, to accommodate the women during their time in Australia.

“When I saw the house for the first time I was overwhelmed, it was like my dream house, and having our own rooms made us feel like princesses!” said Tabwanteiti.

 The women arrived in Australia wearing hand-made shirts embroidered with “Carpentaria” and “Kiribati.”

Building confidence through training

Once our new team members settled into Darwin, we facilitated a comprehensive 8-week induction and training program to help build confidence and skills. Training focused on person-centred supports, disability awareness, and Carpentaria’s Principles of Good Practice.

“We really appreciated being selected and given the opportunity to work in Australia. The training gave us lots of confidence and skills so we can support participants to live their best lives, it makes me smile every day,” said Tekabutara.

The team are now completing a Certificate III in Individual Support which is partly supported by the PALM scheme. Carpentaria is assisting everyone to pass their driver’s licence, so they can facilitate community access opportunities with the people they are rostered to support.

Kayne Mabey, Carpentaria Pathways Program Manager, is impressed with the level of energy the team bring to work. “They all bring such a happy vibrant energy that is infectious throughout the Pathways Program, whether it be in their smile, laughter or dancing, it is just contagious,” he said.

The workers bring a happy, vibrant energy to the Pathways Program. 

Bridging connections with the community

When the workers first arrived in Australia, Carpentaria staff travelled to Brisbane to accompany the group back to Darwin, after having a taste of city life, including visiting the zoo and the cinema for the very first time.

Once in Darwin, we were keen to help the workers make social connections, including with the local I-Kiribati community.

“We did some research and reached out to members of the I-Kiribati community in Darwin. We discovered several families from Kiribati who were happy to support the PALM team settle into Darwin life and participate in the wider community,” said Nikkie.

Carpentaria team members also facilitated visits to the library, church and local attractions, and organised attendance at a weekly volleyball competition.

“Before coming here my feelings were fear and doubt. But with the warm welcome that we received in Brisbane and in Darwin, we were well orientated and given the chance to learn and grow, and then after that all of my fears and doubts went away. Now I feel comfortable and happy and very thankful to be part of the Carpentaria family,” said Teue.

“Carpentaria is like another home for me, I don’t feel like an outsider, I feel very welcome and taken care of,” said Tikataake when reflecting on her experience in Darwin so far.

Our comprehensive induction training has provided the team with the skills and ability to provide person-centred individualised support to participants. 

Providing life’s comforts

We are committed to ensuring the team feel supported throughout their time here. Welcome packs containing water bottles, snacks, toiletries, and purses were very well received upon arrival in Brisbane. The team have also been very impressed with the quality of housing, which was fully furnished and kitted out with linen, towels and household appliances, including a BBQ to replicate the Kiribati style of cooking.

Topping it all off, the karaoke machines purchased for each home have been very well utilised since the workers moved in.

“Carpentaria is beyond unique and amazing and has become our Australian family. From our very first information session with them, it gave me the motivation, courage, and confidence to take the greatest opportunity of my life for my family and also for those who need my support. Working with Carpentaria gives me joy and happiness and makes me smile every day,” said Tebanimarawa.