SYDNEY / REDFERN CONSULTATIONS & RESEARH FINDINGS
The consultations revealed a range of pressing concerns faced by individuals, families and the community as a whole. High among these was a concern with physical, mental and emotional health, including access to appropriate health services.
The range of these concerns was extensive and the data suggest individuals often suffered from a complex mix of health, mental health and lifestyle issues. Health concerns extended beyond the immediate health and lifestyle issues as they impacted on individuals, to concerns with their impact on carers and other family members.
“Education is a large issue, in that many community members have had limited education, which has limited their employment opportunities and earning potential later on in life. Often leading to a lower standard of living.”
Other major concerns that emerged from the Redfern, Sydney consultations involved issues related to people’s economic circumstances – financial burdens, unemployment and contributing inadequate education and training opportunities.
Substance abuse (including easy access to drugs and alcohol) also emerged as a recurring theme in relation to areas of concern about individuals, families and the community. Substance abuse was linked causally to other issues such as unemployment and family violence.
“It is hard to get a job due to racism – leads to stereotyping of blacks being lazy. There is also guilt by association; i.e. shoplifting or drugs. This can have a negative effect on wellbeing and self-esteem.”
Underpinning all of these issues confronting individuals, families and the community was dealing with racism and negative stereotyping, along with a general lack in the broader community of cultural awareness, sensitivity or knowledge relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. There were also issues around policing and the justice system and housing inadequacy, the high cost of housing and lack of appropriate support from housing providers.
At the core of the many suggestions, ensuring the stability of the family unit was the most frequently recurring theme. The roles played by a range of family members (mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling), as well as other ‘care- givers’ were recognised.
Along with the prominence given to family was a corresponding focus on what could be done to build a stronger and more supportive community. In this discussion, ‘networks’ and ‘connections’ were often mentioned, as were notions of ‘unity’ and working together. Building stronger connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and traditional ways were also significant themes.