A REPORT prepared on behalf of the Kurnai Nation Company by members of the local Aboriginal community has made clear recommendations on what can be done to improve services for and recognition of local indigenous people.
Above: Lisa Williams (front left) and Linda Mullett (right) and members of the Kurnai community with Narracan MP Gary Blackwood (back left) and Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tim Bull (back right).
This article was first published in the 10 October 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy now for even more news and entertainment.
The Six Generations Yarning Together report, launched on Tuesday by authors Linda Mullett and Lisa Williams, explores the background of policies and attitudes toward the Kurnai people by settlers in Australia while making suggestions on how present conditions can be improved.
The key recommendation of the report was that a Healing and Culture Centre be established, with a view to delivering “a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal people by increasing participation in services and delivery and incorporating employment and training opportunities for the community.”
The creation of “a place to connect” was, according to the report, “seen as a vital health and wellbeing need, particularly when Aboriginal people have such deep spiritual needs to connect with family, community, their beliefs, practices and country, which for the most part have been taken away from them.”
Cultural awareness features strongly in the report. Another reccomendation suggested “all… service providers develop a reconciliation action plan or policy” and government organisations commit to ongoing cultural awareness training in consultation with Aboriginal Elders.
The creation of programs to reduce barriers to accessing services and participation in programs was also labelled as an important step to improving service delivery.
Programs designed to “support and guide Aboriginal students at all levels,” to be developed by Elders and parents have also been suggested by the report. Those programs could include all school staff in Baw Baw undergoing compulsory yearly cultural awareness training and the improved access to Aboriginal culture and history programs.
Above: Linda Mullett addresses local, state and federal government representatives at the report’s launch.
Health and financial wellbeing were also key areas addressed by the report. Recommendations for service improvement included:
• “a review of service delivery models with local Aboriginal leaders to achieve… health prevention [outcomes] and monitor actions to manage chronic disease.”
• “the development of a local housing group that links with Aboriginal housing support workers and services.”
• “the establishment of a group within one year consisting of representatives from agencies including Centrelink, Job Network agencies, Baw Baw Shire, West Gippsland Healthcare Group, secondary schools and local Elders to address employment and training issues.”
• the employment of “a team of four Aboriginal Liaison officers to work in the management structure [of] organisations and service providers to ensure existing policies are made aware of and adhered to.”
• the funding of “a local Aboriginal Community Liaison person to assist in building two-way relationships between Police and the Aboriginal community… aimed at reducing mistrust of the police force.”
Linda Mullett told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen the report’s release was an important step in addressing issues.
“What it means is we’re telling our story, and the struggles we have,” she said.
“We are six generations on and there has been slow outcomes that haven’t improved the health and wellbeing across all levels across all these key areas.
“We need to share this story so we can get change. The community are wanting change for their own community so this report really says it in that way.
“We’ve come from the past, where we’ve come from, we’re at the present and now we want to work toward the future, so that’s what the report details.”
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