PERTH CONSULTATIONS & RESEARCH FINDINGS
The consultations revealed a range of critical issues faced by individuals, families and the community as a whole. High among these was a concern with substance abuse, with overuse of alcohol and drugs being equated with family breakdown and trauma. Access to drugs and alcohol by underage youth was of real concern and affected their employment opportunities.
“We as Aboriginal people need to know our family tree. Older family members are to blame to some extent as they are not letting young people know.”
Family related issues also featured significantly in the responses. The broad range of issues included the impact of the Stolen Generations, family structural breakdown and family feuding.
Participants also indicated that there was a high rate of bullying, violence and crime in the community, which fuelled, and was fuelled by, family feuding and impacted on community safety. They were most worried about the safety of family members, particularly children and also had concerns about ‘keeping their mob safe’. Violence was linked to substance abuse. The range of ways that violence manifests in the community was extensive.
“We need more building bridges programs uniting families.”
Health also emerged as a general concern among community members, especially around issues such as wellbeing, mental health and suicide. Underlying the concerns raised so far were fundamental economic issues relating to a lack of employment opportunities and inadequate levels of participation in education. Poverty, lack of housing and the high cost of living were other economic factors impacting on the community.
The key theme addressed under the header of ‘preferred programs’ related to programs about Aboriginal culture and history. Participants were very clear that the Aboriginal elements should not only address the development and content of the programs, but delivery. Any program should be developed by and delivered for Aboriginal people by Aboriginal people. Participants thought that there needed to be more support and help for individual community members so that they, in turn, were better equipped to help others.