Hours can fly by when you’re having a yarn with John Mogridge, a telltale sign he’s good at connecting with people and drawing them into effortless and absorbing conversations.
John has been working at the City of Swan for the past 13 years, where he started as a youth worker running programs at local schools and supporting community programs for young people.
“One successful initiative that I was involved in was Night Hoops, a basketball inclusion program for at-risk young people in the community,” John recalls.
“Each Friday and Saturday night, we’d have close to 150 young people come to the courts to hang out, have a yarn and play ball.”
It was this valuable work, and his drive to provide young Indigenous people with more opportunities, understanding their culture and empower them to use their voice, that earned John a Youth Work WA Award in 2015.
These days, in his role as Aboriginal Partnerships Officer, John works with different people and groups to ensure Indigenous people’s needs and voices are being represented and heard.
“Building relationships and working closely with community, councillors and staff helps get everyone thinking about how we can collaborate with our Traditional Owners to achieve good outcomes for everyone,” he says.
“The naming of New Junction’s Weeip Park is a good example of consulting with local elders to consider an appropriate Noongar name.”
It’s quite clear John’s willingness to help and given back to his community is not done yet. John’s currently focused on Moorditij Maaman – a men’s group he formed to help members take responsibility for their health and wellbeing – and the City’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – a project he’s helped lead since its early days.
The RAP, a strategic document that outline’s the City’s vision for a reconciled community and the actions that underpin this vision, was released for community consultation during NAIDOC Week.
“I’m very happy with the steps taken by the City. It shows our community that the City is serious about how they approach our Aboriginal People and are committed to healing country and building positive relationships.
“The process has been a multi-layered approach, starting with an internal working party and a committee made up of local community people who sit alongside the Mayor and Council.
“Those involved have work together to shape the direction of this strategic document and now it’s important that everyone else has their say during the community consultations.”
John is hosting an information session for the RAP at Midland Junction Arts Centre on Thursday, July 22 from 10am – 12pm. You can also have you say on the proposed actions by completing the online survey.