Change the lives of Indigenous children? Sarah Francis of SNAICC tells how she found her job doing just that

Posted on Feb 19, 2019 06:41 PM |

Ever wondered what hiring managers are looking for when they recruit for Australia's most sought-after NFPs?

In this series on the Ethical Jobs Blog, we interview the people who hire at the organisations where you want to work – and we'll give you the inside knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing.

This month we speak to Sarah Francis, Communications Officer at SNAICC – National Voice for our Children. Established in 1981, SNAICC is a national non-government peak body in Australia representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

The organisation employs a diverse team of people with a range of skills and experiences in roles ranging from community development to policy and research and more.

 

Starting out with work

When I was 14 I cleaned a bed and breakfast and babysat two kids for a new mother. Twenty years later I got to meet them as adults – it was unreal!

At uni I did a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Human Geography and a Master of International Development and Environmental Analysis. I merged these disciplines to work in communications for development, which is very rewarding. These degrees taught me how to think critically and strategically, and showed me a meaningful career pathway.

I’ve been so lucky with my career post-university – my work has always allowed me to utilise my skills in meaningful roles, and I’ve met some wonderful people and lived in really interesting places. Over the past sixteen years I’ve done everything from volunteer with grassroots organisations to consult for billion-dollar multilateral organisations. Thematically my career has involved marketing communications, community development and young people.

In Maningrida, a remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land, I worked with locals to run activities for young people that promoted health and culture. It was an incredible experience to be hanging out with hilarious and talented kids from the oldest living cultures on earth.

In Timor-Leste I developed and implemented a national strategy to promote training opportunities to youth. I was proud that our work led to the employment of the nation’s first female mechanics.

I also made some amazing friends caving in the Philippines, and together we created the Philippines’ first caving guidebook.

 

Working at SNAICC

SNAICC – National Voice for our Children is the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. We exist to see all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up healthy, happy and safe, connected to community and culture. We do everything from working on government policy, to conducting academic research, to working with sector practitioners, to running National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

I’m a Communications Officer – in my role I’ve conducted stakeholder research about our communications work and developed a communications strategic plan, so that we can be a stronger, louder voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. I’m managing Children’s Day, promotional materials and the production of publications. It’s an interesting and varied role.

The most rewarding thing I've done in this role was work with a talented young Aboriginal filmmaker to produce a promotional video for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day. It was great meeting the kids at Lulla's, an Aboriginal early learning centre in Shepparton, and producing something beautiful to show Australia how gorgeous our First Nations children are.

I was attracted to working with SNAICC because I felt like working for a national peak body that influences policy would be a way to really make a positive difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. When I worked on the ground in community at the local level, it meant that there were direct positive outcomes for the young people I worked with. However, that was small-scale, and sustainability was dependent on the person running programs and the government's agenda of the day.

Trying to influence government at the policy level, however, can lead to lasting, national or state-wide change, which then trickles down to have positive impacts in community.

 

Why work for a better world?

I need to be working towards social or environmental justice; it’s part of who I am. The salary is irrelevant.

And when you’ve lived with people who have very little, you understand that we already have so much. The typical Australian is wealthier than a typical person from any other country in the world.

If you’re searching for a job, remember that anything is possible with a bit of hard work! Get as much experience as you can – volunteer and say yes to opportunities. Learn from older people and those with different life experiences. And give up some of your comforts to really immerse yourself in the cause you’re working for – you’ll be much more effective in the work you do.

Thanks for your time, Sarah!

 

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