Com­mu­nity seeks change

Pilbara News - - News - Gareth Parker

Nanna Pansy Hicks speaks qui­etly, but with un­mis­tak­able de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“I had five boys at my house last night,” the Ngar­luma el­der tells two Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters over tea.

“Made a bed for them in the lounge.”

The boys’ moth­ers were out gam­bling and they had nowhere else safe to stay.

“I tell their moth­ers the night time is no good for kids in the dark,” she says.

“I tell them they need to look af­ter the kids, but they don’t lis­ten.”

A 2014 re­view found out­comes in clos­ing the gap barely reg­is­tered af­ter more than $50 mil­lion was spent by 63 agen­cies on 200 pro­grams for Roe­bourne’s 1400 res­i­dents.

But the com­mu­nity it­self wants to do more. Its project 6718 aims to bring de­ci­sion-mak­ers to­gether for com­mon goals.

Rather than dis­parate pro­grams to treat the symp­toms of Abo­rig­i­nal dis­ad­van­tage, lead­ers want to fo­cus on three core ar­eas: safety, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­nity.

Mawarnkarra Health Ser­vice di­rec­tor Jolleen Hicks said the peo­ple never felt they owned their ser­vices.

Mawarnkarra is the pri­mary health­care provider for Roe­bourne and has deep cul­tural roots, yet providers visit and com­pete with or du­pli­cate its ser­vices.

Ms Hicks said the group had the high­est ac­cred­i­ta­tions and the only rea­son for oth­ers to of­fer the same ser­vices was be­cause it was an Abo­rig­i­nal cor­po­ra­tion sub­jected to stereo­types that needed to change.

El­ders such as Nanna Pansy have the cul­tural au­thor­ity to help re­build com­mu­ni­ties, but there is a sense progress must be made while the gen­er­a­tion that grew up with few rights but a strong cul­ture can still teach the young ones be­fore time runs out.

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

Roe­bourne el­der Pansy Hicks at of her Roe­bourne home.

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