Dan - Aboriginal practice leader

As Senior Aboriginal Practice Leader at The Orange Door, employed by the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), Dan Laws works to ensure that services are culturally appropriate. 

Dan Laws, Senior Aboriginal Practice Leader
The Orange Door

“When an Aboriginal person comes through the service, my colleagues will consult me as a first step, before the person is assigned to a worker. It’s a way for us to ensure that Aboriginal people get the most suitable and best possible service,” Dan says.

“I’m lucky to have the support of VACCA and The Orange Door to pursue our approach, which is ‘Aboriginal people working in the Aboriginal way.’”

Reflecting on the career pathway that led to his current role, Dan highlights the importance of being a good listener, being prepared and of taking time to reflect.

“You must have good listening skills and you must be prepared to hear about some pretty awful behaviour,” Dan says.

“Secondly, you have to understand your role. When we’re recruiting new workers, I think it’s very important they understand exactly what we do and the sorts of things you have to deal with. It’s hard not to be affected by it. But no matter what you hear, you have to remember that you’re there to help.

“What I love most about my work is helping someone break free from the cycle of violence – it could be the affected family member, or it could be the children.

“You’re helping them get away from something that has troubled them for a long time. You’re helping to change their life and seeing them change as people, developing a sense of self-empowerment and self-determination. It’s a new freedom they might not have felt for years.

“Family violence can be a challenging area to work in for a sustained period. But for me, the guiding light is the moment when I can say to someone, ‘Right now, you’re going through this. But we’re going to help you get out of it.’”