Re­al­ity is still bleak

WORK TO HEAL ABO­RIG­I­NAL COM­MU­NITY

Comment News (Gosnells) - - Front Page - Ben Smith

“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.”

An­gela Ry­der.

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