Pas­sion for her com­mu­nity drives nom­i­nee

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - Kate Leaver

WA YOUTH award nom­i­nee Tiana Cul­bong says her pas­sion for her com­mu­nity is the driv­ing force be­hind her youth work.

While study­ing a Master in Pub­lic Health at Deakin Univer­sity, Ms Cul­bong – who has been nom­i­nated for the Com­mu­nity Lead­er­ship Award – works for the Telethon Kids In­sti­tute in Su­bi­aco as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Ku­lunga Abo­rig­i­nal Re­search Devel­op­ment, a group ded­i­cated to cre­at­ing a stronger youth voice.

“I’m par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in Abo­rig­i­nal youth health and well­be­ing, which will even­tu­ally be the fo­cus of my PHD,” she said.

“I al­ways knew I was go­ing to work in and for my com­mu­nity so it was just a mat­ter of de­cid­ing what area I was go­ing to fo­cus on.”

The 25-year-old’s com­mu­nity con­tri­bu­tion ex­tends back to 2014, where she worked with Cen­tre­care, and was re­spon­si­ble for the case man­age­ment of eight Abo­rig­i­nal young peo­ple in State care.

Ms Cul­bong said chal­lenges fac­ing her com­mu­nity needed to be viewed holis­ti­cally.

“Grow­ing up, I wit­nessed this cy­cle of de­struc­tion and it is on­go­ing and I think it’s never ad­dressed as a whole; it’s only ever ad­dress­ing one is­sue at a time,” she said.

“As an Abo­rig­i­nal per­son you are able to see this is­sue holis­ti­cally and if you don’t ad­dress things on a larger scale there will be no pos­i­tive im­pact.

“I think start­ing early when you start to see this in­ter­gen­er­a­tional trauma oc­cur, that’s when things need to be ad­dressed.”

As a Noon­gar woman, Ms Cul­bong said a pas­sion for her com­mu­nity and youth health and well­be­ing was first and fore­most.

She said mis­con­cep­tions about Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple came from a lack of ed­u­ca­tion.

“It all stems back to ed­u­ca­tion and how much peo­ple know about Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple and com­mu­nity be­cause when you say Abo­rig­i­nal, peo­ple tend to think boomerangs, red dust, com­mu­ni­ties and al­co­holism and things like that but ac­tu­ally have never spent enough time with an Abo­rig­i­nal per­son to know what the real is­sues are,” she said.

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt­mu­ni­ d462199

Tiana Cul­bong says the is­sues in the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity need to be ad­dressed holis­ti­cally.

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