'building communities' capacity through empowerment, healing and leadership.'
NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT PROJECT
Building communities' capacity through empowerment and strengthening
cultural, social and emotional wellbeing.
CHERBOURG CONSULTATIONS & RESEARCH FINDINGS
General concerns with youth, family, community breakdown and inappropriate levels of drug and alcohol abuse were seen as core problems. These then led to other associated issues such as family violence, conflicts between groups and poverty. Lack of employment opportunities and concerns about physical and mental health & wellbeing were also seen as problems. Many of these issues were seen to impact across individuals, family and the community as a whole.
While the problems raised through the consultations were seen to impact on the whole community, there were underlying concerns about their impact on youth, especially as many saw young people as the future of the community.
“No love and attention: young people get upset and [engage in criminal behaviours] and want to self-harm to cope.”
The inter-related issues impacting on individuals, families and the community had a direct relationship in what people perceived was needed to redress the problems. Consequently, strengthening individuals was in part what built stronger families and more cohesive communities. At the same time it was changes in how families and communities worked together, communicated more effectively and supported each other that also helped make individuals stronger.
Leadership was another of those intertwining factors; it was contingent on individuals’ sense of self, how they were supported and nurtured within the family and community, but in turn, strong leadership was of itself seen to also be key to building stronger families and community for the future.
Participants said that focusing on self-care, building personal esteem and confidence were some of the strategies to create significant impact on individual’s strength. More positive attitudes, experiences and communication skills were needed. Education and employment possibilities were seen to be important, as these would give people a sense of purpose and financial security.
“Cultural education: the cultural education of knowing cultural ways builds pride in self so people become empowered to go forward to achieve.”
Connection to culture, including a strong focus on a better knowledge and understanding of traditional ways was something that many participants felt would help make them stronger. The role of Elders within the community was seen as needing to be promoted and supported. Ensuring a greater degree of love and respect, including respect for Elders was a theme that emerged across a number of questions.
Programs should be locally based and community oriented, with the whole community being engaged. Programs should also be delivered within the local community and within culturally appropriate settings. Further, the delivery of programs should be by local community people themselves. Many felt that any program would only be successful if local people were engaged and had ownership over the development and delivery.