GERALDTON CONSULTATIONS AND RESEARCH FINDINGS
The consultations revealed a range of pressing concerns faced by individuals, families and the community. The most striking issue identified by Geraldton participants related to substance abuse.
There was great concern that the use of illicit drugs and alcohol appears to be increasing, and particularly so for young people who are starting to 'use' much earlier in life.
Most people spoke about their concern that people aren't able to get jobs locally in the area, causing a major strain and burden on families particularly because there is no formal and regular income for households, coupled with the high cost of living in Geraldton.
There is not enough public housing in Geraldton and its surrounds making private renting the only option for people, which is often too expensive for people and families to afford.
The issue of the availability of housing in Geraldton was highlighted by many peope through the consultations and of particular concern was the increase in the number of people who are homeless.
Family feuding and violence and its impact on individuals and the community was evident in the consultations. Also of concern was the increase in domestic violence within relationships, as well as use of social media for fuelling general violence within the community.
There was a mixed array of responses in relation to family related-issues from people in Geraldton, some of which included things like having to deal with reliance and expectations from other family members.
Racism and discrimination was another issue that many felt was significantly negatively impacting on the community, particularly around people's experiences of it from local services and the shop.
Health and mental health issues were also identified as issues of concern. Depression was the most common response people gave in relation to mental health issues, whilst others spoke about their own personal health and other lifestyle problems.
While Geraldton participants raised many concerns about issues that impacted on individuals, families and their community, they also had a clear sense of what could make them stronger.
“They (services) don’t offer a culturally appropriate and holistic approach. Culturally appropriate is just a word. They don’t live it or practice it.”
More training and education opportunities were also identified as strength building andarticipants recognised that education was very important and greater support was required for school aged children.
Less feuding and more family supports were highlighted by the local community as contributing to making individuals, families and community strong. Focusing on self and looking after one's health and wellbeing including being actively involved in sports and exercise and knowing your limits were highlighted.
Having better communication within families and the community was something that people saw as important to them. Greater support and need for more local Aboriginal services and Aboriginal workers were noted as important in making individuals, families and the community strong.
Respect was mentioned several times by people as something that is needed to make them, their families and the community strong. Not passing judgement and showing empathy and kindness to others was also raised.
In response to questions about cultural, social and emotional wellbeing, empowerment and healing programs for Geraldton, participants focused on the importance of progams having a strong cultural focus.
Participants also emphasized the need for programs to be specific to individuals, families and the community and that specific suicide prevention programs were important.