Caroline Kell

Aboriginal Pathway to the VPS GRADS, 2016


Caroline Kell

Aboriginal Pathway Graduate 2016

Caroline Kell
















What's your job about?

The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing branch provides strategic leadership, advice and expertise in co–designing policies, services, programs and practices to address outcomes and service delivery disparities, for and between Aboriginal and non–Aboriginal people.

Working in the Systems Transformation and Engagement Unit, I am responsible for creating, enhancing and brokering relationships between the department and Aboriginal communities, the Aboriginal community controlled sector, the universal service sector, and other parts of the department.

What's your background?

Growing up, I always had a fascination with human behaviour and how people and communities are intrinsically shaped by their surroundings. I persistently questioned the world around me. My mother is strong and proud women, a survivor of the Stolen Generations. She encouraged me and my four siblings to work hard for what we believed in. I think it was a combination of the two, that led me to complete my Bachelor in Social Science. I knew I had an obligation as an Aboriginal person to help right historical wrongs, to help change the Aboriginal deficit discourse.

I worked in various senior administrative roles whilst completing my degree part-time. After completing the first half of my degree, I decided I wanted the ability to understand human behaviour at both a macro and micro level and majored in Counselling. I also volunteered as a youth Counsellor, then an alcohol and drug Counsellor, before making the leap into Government.

During my Graduate year, I was invited to address 200+ guests at Parliament House. I dutifully spoke about my mother’s unjust past and proclaimed the importance of employing Aboriginal people, ensuring they are involved in Government policy and decision making.

Now, I have the privilege of working in The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing branch where I get to opportunity to facilitate the Aboriginal perspectives and voices into Government policy and decision making.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. Having a Social Sciences or Counselling background is not essential; but a strong connection to the Victorian Aboriginal communities is.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I’m a part of what could be, one of the biggest paradigm shifts in Victoria. Victoria is in the middle of a political reform agenda, when it comes to the way it views and manages Aboriginal affairs. The Premier announced a commitment to a Treaty (or Treaties) and principles of self-determination. I get to work with Aboriginal people and communities, to see these ideologies come to life.

What are the limitations of your job?

Navigating the bureaucracy of Government has it challenges.

Also, knowing how long we have to go to really see real change, whilst remaining optimistic, can be defeating at times.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

1. Self-care is paramount. Make time to replenish your mind, body, spirit and soul. Find whatever works for you. For me it was going for that walk, meditating, eating well and hanging out with friends.

2. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves, then beat ourselves up when we don’t meet them. Understand life is chaotic at times, and allow for flexibility.

3. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ask your lecturer or a classmate if something doesn’t make sense. You can’t be expected to understand everything first go.