MILDURA CONSULTATIONS & RESEARCH FINDINGS
The most pressing single concern to emerge across issues faced by individuals, families and the community as a whole was substance abuse. Increased levels of drug abuse, lack of knowledge and awareness around how to deal with new drugs in the community (Meth-Amphetamine) have resulted in an ice epidemic in Mildura and surrounding areas. Substance abuse was seen as a core problem contributing to youth, family and community breakdown and was causally linked to concerns with health and wellbeing and issues of violence in a range of forms – interpersonal violence, family violence, violence in the streets and lateral violence.
Housing and unemployment were also interlinked issues impacting on individuals, families and the community. Lack of housing, overcrowding and a long waiting list are some of the main factors that were seen to be affecting families in the community. Lack of adequate housing was also seen to impact on community safety.
Unemployment was frequently raised as a concern for Aboriginal people in Mildura especially as it impacts on young people and young parents. Inadequate education and training was also seen to relate to unemployment.
“The lack of work in the community is contributing to more problems like domestic violence and alcohol use.”
“We need to get together more and express to each other that change needs to happen. This can only happen if we as a Community all work together.”
For most people, building more resilient families was at the core of strengthening individuals and the community. Beyond people getting together and building their own families, participants recognised that individuals and families needed a range of supports. These included having (and being aware of and making use of) available support services and programs.
Participants also recognised that help could come from supportive individuals in the community. It was considered important that people recognise who these supportive ‘others’ could be and seek them out when necessary.
“More workshops on our culture: not knowing where we come from; contributing to all of the above; getting back to country.”
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 strong. The role of Elders within the community was often stressed.
While the consultations were largely embedded in the present and strongly focused on current ‘issues’, participants also looked to the future were able to identify solutions and positive strategies that could be used to address problems.
Participants said that focusing on self-care, building personal esteem and confidence were some of the ways that could significantly impact on making individuals strong. More positive attitudes, experiences and communication skills were needed. Education, training and employment possibilities were seen to be important, as these would give people a sense of purpose and financial security.
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