Reality is still bleak
WORK TO HEAL ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY
“THE impact of the Stolen Generation is real. It is part of our lives today. It is not something you get over.”
Western Australian of the Year finalist Angela Ryderok believes grief and suffering are a major issue in sections of the Aboriginal community today.
Mrs Ryder, a member of the Stolen Generation, has been nominated for the Aboriginal Award category for her work with the Langford Aboriginal Association (LAA), Naidoc Perth and Relationships Australia WA.
She is working with both the LAA and Relationships Australia WA to implement the National Empowerment Project, which aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through the promotion of cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. She also offers grief and loss counselling at the LAA every fortnight.
Mrs Ryder said many members of her community had been successful in their search for employment and achieved highly in their studies, but the reality was bleak for others.
“There are some of my community who are struggling for various reasons, including identity, homelessness, low income, poverty, family violence, alcohol and other drugs misuse,” she said.
“Life is hard when you are struggling to gain employment, managing a chronic disease, trying to keep a roof over your family’s head, managing to pay bills with limited resources and are caring for your grandchildren.”
She said she helped establish the LAA in 2000 to combat the lack of services available to her community, but there was only so much support they could provide.
“More on the ground and practical support is required; many of us are resilient and strong, but at times we can be overwhelmed by complex issues on a daily basis,” she said.
Mrs Ryder said funding committed to programs designed to aid Aboriginal communities needed to be long-term in order to be effective.
“Often programs that are working and are successfully helping community are not funded adequately or for a reasonable period of time,” she said..
“Adequate resources and long term funding is needed. We cannot expect government to be the answer and I see a strong place for corporate and philanthropic givers.”
While resources were stretched thin at times, Mrs Ryder has worked hard to offer whatever support possible. She said the success of LAA programs aimed at encouraging people to open up, such as the Moorditj Yoka Women's Group, meant a lot to her.
“Every Saturday during school terms, women come together at LAA to not only network but to talk about any concerns being experienced, share a meal, socialise and to learn new skills,” she said.
“Life-long friends have been made and the group has been a source of support for myself and many others.”