NARROGIN CONSULTATIONS & RESEARCH FINDINGS
Community consultations with local Aboriginal people living in Narrogin suggested people perceived a number of critical issues for individuals, families and the community. These issues were also highlighted through the two-day cultural, social and emotional well being workshop which was delivered in Narrogin following the community consultations.
The most pressing concerns to emerge across issues faced by individuals, families and the community as a whole in Narrogin involved conflict and family feuding.
“The ignorance of the wider community to understand and be compassionate to the Nyoongar situation is non-existent.”
Another major issue was the experiences of racism, discrimination and injustice felt by Aboriginal people in Narrogin. Substance abuse was often seen in causal relationship to other individual, family or community issues such as unemployment, inadequate housing and health issues.
Participants often spoke of their concerns about young people as a group and expressed concerns about their wellbeing and future. The range of issues currently impacting on young people included the lack of suitable activities targeting youth. Several years ago Narrogin suffered a high rate of mental illness and youth suicide. This devastating history has left the community with concerns about the wellbeing of young people. These concerns about young people were also linked to worries people held for the future of the community.
Strengthening individuals and helping to build strong future leaders of the community was important, in helping to redress some of the issues and concerns raised. Improving health and lifestyle, and bringing about healing were important.
“If we get the right people, those with their hearts really in it, we could do it. There is no magic wand to fix this. It will take a lot of hard work. We need people who understand the wants and needs of the community.”
While the consultations were largely embedded in the present and strongly focused on current issues, participants also looked to the future and were able to identify solutions and positive strategies that could be used to address problems. Connection to culture was a strong theme, with the need to address cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. Empowerment and healing centred on aspects of Aboriginal culture, language and what people referred to as ‘traditional ways’.
“The old women need to be consulted, and the Elders need to be fully involved. The old people have lost their roles as teachers and guides. And the young people are growing up without knowing their culture. WE need to fix that, and if you could see the pride in the old men when they stand up to talk about their culture, you would know what I mean.”
Ongoing support and commitment is certainly required, and it is our hope that the stories and voices of the Narrogin people be heard and listened to in a way that can positively influence the necessary changes and responses required at the community level, otherwise our communities will continue to struggle with the high levels of community distress and suicides. The consultations showed that amidst the problems and issues confronting community people on a daily basis, there is considerable optimism and hope for a better future.