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“Find something that makes your heart sing – and do that!” – Meagan Caratti on her journey to Cape York Program Manager at Red Earth

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of articles that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Today’s story is from Meagan Caratti, who found her role as Cape York Program Manager for Red Earth on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Red Earth connects people with remote Indigenous Homelands in a safe and meaningful way, and provides economic opportunity, sustainability, and empowerment to those who live there. 

Starting out with work

My first ever job was at McDonalds – as soon as I was old enough – what’s that…14 & 9 months? Maccas is hard work and was a great start in terms of developing discipline, standards, teamwork, customer service – and keeping calm amidst a changeable, fast-paced environment.

I trained as an actor and a singer, studying Music and Theatre full time (and Environmental Management part-time). I had my first professional engagement by the time I graduated and I’ve been fortunate to be able to work steadily in the arts ever since but decided early on I would have two careers – and I would cultivate meaningful work in both.

Being an artist requires my curiosity, empathy, discipline and active listening. It is team-work that demands a willingness to play in the deep-end with a new bunch of people all working together for a common goal.

And it can be intense – when things go awry onstage we have to think creatively on our feet, and make it work and be ready to catch each other and look out for one another. It’s a community and the power it has to change someone’s day or sometimes their life, through storytelling, is always present.

All these experiences fuel my creativity and help me to find solutions and adapt to a huge range of situations.

Like many arts-makers my career is a long & varied list. I’ve worn many hats from professional Fairy to both Abba’s women and chaperoning giant marsupials through the Sydney Olympics.

Working in and behind the scenes in theatre, I’ve been an Arts Administrator, Tour Manager, Educator, and performed music as therapy in Nursing Homes.

I spent my 20s freelancing – which meant 4 jobs at once a lot of the time and all of them different!

But the common factor has always been working with people – and in particular with children and young people. I have volunteered as an entertainer at both Sydney’s Children’s Hospitals every Christmas for many years and more recently, by reading stories to children at a local primary school. I established my own fundraising event, to raise awareness and much needed funds for children’s causes, producing an annual charity concert for a decade.

Then I took a breather to consider what I wanted to do to align my extra-curricular projects with my day job even more.

For the last 9 years I’d worked as Production Administrator and Producer for a theatre company that tours works for children both nationally & internationally. This was a match for so many of the skills & the experience I have but didn’t have an official piece of paper for: managing tours, working with suppliers, booking travel, looking after touring companies and their wellbeing, providing the structure & support so they can get on with their job. Constantly being ready and willing to help others – to catch the baton…as I do in my current role.

Working at Red Earth

Red Earth organises and runs 10-day trips for groups of high school students to Indigenous homelands in remote Australia. These programs give young people a chance to get to know Traditional Owners, learning from them first-hand and experiencing their vast and varied cultures. Just as importantly, it creates jobs for Elders, their families and the wider community. Red Earth has been doing this for 8 years, creating programs for over 4,000 students.

My role as Cape York Program Manager involves multi-tasking and communicating with my entire team. My role is to plan and book all of the programs for Cape York – including all the travel, food, transport & accommodation; creating and managing support materials and visiting schools to prepare students and their families for their immersions. I am providing ongoing support to groups in the field, working with schools, families, suppliers, and our field staff. It takes a small but very dedicated village to run trips as smoothly as we do.

COVID-normal looks quite different, but I am grateful to be working with such a dedicated and forward-thinking team – using this unprecedented time wisely to make improvements to our current systems and grow our team.

This has been a very interesting time to join Red Earth – I hit the ground running and [then COVID hit.] I have been able to be part of streamlining our processes and contributing to the company’s future.

It’s also confirmed what I already knew – that this small team show great leadership & healthy attitudes – even during unprecedented times – with transparent communication and strategies to look after everyone we work with, from communities to schools to staff. This is paramount and part of everything we do.

Experiencing the Cape with the perspectives of local communities – meeting our Indigenous partners, listening to their own stories and witnessing the connections made with young people and their growth over the 10 days – it’s awe-inspiring.

Working for a better world

I searched the internet for positions that aligned with my values and EthicalJobs.com.au magically appeared. I’ve since recommended it to many friends also seeking purposeful and fulfilling work that makes a positive difference and that they can be truly passionate about.

I love the work Red Earth do – and reading the job description found it was a match for my experience and also, importantly, my heart & spirit. I am passionate about Indigenous Australia and I could see this was, and is, an opportunity to help bridge the gap even in a small way, with my current skillset.

I witnessed both my parents work ethic – their loyalty to an organisation and doing something well and with pride…that made an impression on me.

Working in the arts for over two decades showed me that doing something that you love and doing it well is personally far more satisfying [than doing it for other reasons]. Making a positive difference, working with a great team and loving what I do… for me – that’s worthwhile.

My advice to other ethical jobseekers is look at what you can bring to a role that is unique to you, and how you can help the company. Sure, you’ll benefit – but sincerely – know what’s in it for them to hire you? Update your CV. Keep checking sites like EthicalJobs.com.au and sign up to those very useful email alerts. Be patient. Be sincere. And back yourself. Find something that makes your heart sing – and do that.

 

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